Paul Schaefer, MD
“Well, it's no use your talking about waking him, ” said Tweedledum, “when you 're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.”
“I am real!” said Alice, and began to cry.
“You won't make yourself a bit realler by crying, ” Tweedledee remarked: “there's nothing to cry about.”
“If I wasn't real, ” Alice said—half-laughing through her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous—“I shouldn't be able to cry.”
“I hope you don't suppose those are real tears?” Tweedledum interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Since the first observation of microscopic life in the mid-1600s, there has been a tension in the development of biology between two streams of thought sometimes called vitalism and reductionism.
Vitalism maintained that life itself could never be reduced to chemistry and physics. 1 It maintained that there was a “vital essence” that explained manifestations of life for which the sciences couldn't account. Reductionism insisted that the processes of biology were all dependent on physical phenomena that eventually could be learned and studied through the sci-