Authors: Gábor Elek and M. Müller
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  • 1 The Rockefeller University New York NY USA
  • 2 Collegium Budapest Budapest Hungary
  • 3 Deres utca 10/a H-1124 Budapest Hungary
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Ervin Bauer is one of the first theoretical biologists distancing his ideas both from vitalism and mechanicism. He formulated the principle of permanent non-equilibrium of living systems (Bauer’s principle) in terms of thermodynamics in 1920. Bauer’s scientific path can be divided into three periods. In the early 1920s he proposed his principle as an axiom that cannot be derived from contemporary natural sciences. In the late 1920s he reformulated it in a way that it could be subjected to experimental testing. Summarizing his views in the 1930s in his book, Theoretical Biology, he tried to show that his axiom is indeed the fundamental principle of biology. This later view was anachronistic in spite of many striking insights of Bauer. The energetic formulation of Bauer’s principle is, however, a realistic characterization of living organisms and it can be derived from the theory of open systems — in fact it contributed to the formulation of that theory. Bauer’s principle can be incorporated into non-linear thermodynamics of irreversible processes.

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