In the 1850s Huxley claimed that this protoplasm was the organic slime in which tiny marine organisms seemed to be embedded on the sea floor, made up of only carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen.
This stuff turned out to be an artifact of reactions involving the alcohol used to preserve specimens, but Huxley’s idea that the properties of living matter ‘result from the nature and disposition of its molecules’ has become the orthodox view of a material conception of life.
To place the process of synthesising the research literature into context, the article explores the critiquing process by breaking it down into seven sequential steps.
The article explains how and why these steps need to be kept in mind if a robust comprehensive literature search and analysis are to be achieved.
It’s tempting to portray this as a ‘chemical synthesis of a human being’ – which connects Church’s ambitions to the hubris most famously explored in Mary Shelley’s (Aldous was Thomas’s grandson).