Is it possible to truly understand the very nature of "life" and "death" on the basis of contemporary biology? Nearly everyone will react spontaneously: "No way. 'Life' is far too complicated. It involves both a material and an immaterial dimension, and this combination exceeds the capacities of the human brain." "Quite the contrary," responds the author of this book, "these questions can indeed be answered, simply, logically, and without having to invoke any hypothetical principles." The key? First ask the right questions. Next, thoroughly imbue contemporary biology with the principles of communication, including both its "hardware" and its "software" aspects. Finally, arrange the numerous pieces of the Big Puzzle in such a way that a unifying yet simple principle emerges.
One result of this approach is that the theory of evolution - the very heart of biology - in its present form could shred many of its remaining shortcomings if the principles of communication were better incorporated into it. In particular, such an integrative advance could render superfluous the Cartesian mind-body distinction and the dichotomy between cultural evolution that grew out of it. In De Loof's approach of biology there is ample room for feelings, emotions, decision making, problem solving, ethical principles, and last but not least, for optimism in life's basic drive. The overall picture that emerges can be summarized as follows. Decades ago, the visionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky stated that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Arnold De Loof takes the discussion a step further with his assertion that "nothing in biology and in evolution makes sense except in the light of communication and problem solving."