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Author Topic:   Is there a border dividing life from non-life?
lfen
Member (Idle past 2092 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 76 of 132 (133977)
08-14-2004 11:43 PM
Reply to: Message 75 by sidelined
08-14-2004 11:03 PM


Re: Do non-living systems
Well, I concede your point. I think you are right about that.

lfen


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JRTjr
Member (Idle past 1720 days)
Posts: 178
From: Houston, Texas, USA
Joined: 07-19-2004


Message 77 of 132 (136700)
08-25-2004 3:27 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by sidelined
05-01-2004 11:47 PM


Life: 1That property or quality
Life: 1That property or quality of plants and animals that distinguishes them from inorganic matter or dead organisms; specif., the cellular biochemical activity or processes of an organism, characterized by the ingestion of nutrients, the storage and use of energy, the excretion of wastes, growth, reproduction, ect.

Live: 1having life; living

{Webster’s New World, College Dictionary, Third Edition, 1997}

Even though we may not be able to give a, one size fits all, definition for exactly what is, and what is not “Alive” in no way requires us to come to the conclusion that there is no real line.

The fact that rocks are not “Alive” and Trees are shows that there is a difference. Therefore, there must be a line somewhere.

By the way, Taking into account all of the criteria mentioned above {in the definition}, show me some object that is not “Alive” and yet exhibits all of the specified criteria.

Added – August 25th, 4’

Something that is “alive” will ingest nutrients, store and use energy, excrete wastes, grow, and reproduce; among other things. {According to the definition above.}

I believe that one of the “other things” we could use is ‘the complexity principle’ I used in another string.

{If I see something that has both organization and complexity I look for an intelligent designer.

A hurricane has organization, but is vary low on the complexity scale; I accept that it is the product of natural circumstances.
…/…
My cell phone has both organization and complexity; therefore, I come to the conclusion that it has an intelligent designer.

Whether or not anything has both organization and complexity, it not the only criteria that I could use to decide whether or not something was made {I.E. created by an intelligent designer}, but it is one good measuring stick.

For instance, a park bench has vary little complexity {I.E. it is a vary simple design.} but, we’re not going to mistake six peaces of lumber bolted to a metal frame for a natural occurrence. Thus, not all designed things are complex, but all ‘relatively’ complex things are designed; the more complex the item, the more intelligent the designer must be. {I.E. someone with an I.Q. of, say, fifty would not be able to design and build a laptop computer}}

I was speaking on the subject of whether or not “Life” could come into existence without an intelligent designer. However the principle can be used in helping to determine whether or no something is “alive”. {Please note: I am not saying that “just because something is, or possesses a certain amount of, complexity that it is “alive” just that complexity can be added to the list of life definitions}

For example, my cell phone has both organization and complexity. However, comparing it to a bacterium you can see that the bacterium is, by far, more complex; and that the bacterium exhibits all the other criteria for life; therefore, the bacterium is alive, and the cell phone is not. After all, the cell phone may be complex however; it does not exhibit all of the other criteria for life.

This message has been edited by jrtjr1, 08-26-2004 01:45 AM


John3: 16, 17
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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sidelined 
Inactive Suspended Member


Message 78 of 132 (136742)
08-25-2004 9:45 AM
Reply to: Message 77 by JRTjr
08-25-2004 3:27 AM


Re: Life: 1That property or quality
jrtjr1

By the way, Taking into account all of the criteria mentioned above {in the definition}, show me some object that is not “Alive” and yet exhibits all of the specified criteria.

We are not stating that life does not exist but,rather, how does the border actually come about.You see here in your definition.

the cellular biochemical activity or processes of an organism, characterized by the ingestion of nutrients, the storage and use of energy, the excretion of wastes, growth, reproduction, ect.

If we look at each of these characteristics {i.e. ingestion,storage of energy, etc} we find that they are themselves can be explained in terms of chemistry and physics.Together,they can form an organism, but individually they are not what we would call life.The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.

You can look at a person or a tree and say they are alive but at what point in our investigation do we determine that life is different from a complex interplay of chemical elements under control of the four forces of nature? In other words is there an actual difference between a rock and a human that is more than a difference in the complexity of its constituents?

I hope this helps to clarify rather than confuse.Please digest it and bring up any concerns you wish to express.


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Dr Jack
Member
Posts: 3500
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 79 of 132 (136747)
08-25-2004 9:55 AM
Reply to: Message 77 by JRTjr
08-25-2004 3:27 AM


Re: Life: 1That property or quality
The fact that rocks are not “Alive” and Trees are, shows that there is a difference. Therefore, there must be a line somewhere.

The fact that I have hair and Duncan Goodhew is bald shows that there is a difference. Therefore, there must be a line somewhere.

So, precisely, how many hairs do you need before you are not bald?


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8776
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 5.1


Message 80 of 132 (136769)
08-25-2004 11:44 AM
Reply to: Message 78 by sidelined
08-25-2004 9:45 AM


an important disagreement
The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.

I think this is incorrect. The whole is very much more than the sum of it's parts. "Life" may be difficult to define in the same way that consciousness is because they are both emergent properties.

I agree, of course, that when we drill down we get nothing but chemical processes. However, we label whatever property it is that emerges at some level of complexity "life" but no one individual process is "alive". This is a match to what goes on in our brain. There is no consciousness anywhere in there that we can point to but it emerges from all the processes going on in there.


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Mammuthus
Member (Idle past 3889 days)
Posts: 3085
From: Munich, Germany
Joined: 08-09-2002


Message 81 of 132 (136778)
08-25-2004 12:11 PM
Reply to: Message 80 by NosyNed
08-25-2004 11:44 AM


Re: an important disagreement
While I agree that a difficult aspect of defining life is that it is an emergent property, I don't think one can draw a line. It may be more of a gradation much like the difficulty involved in defining sub-generic systematic classifcations such as species or sub-species. Are self replicating RNA molecules "alive"? They require substrates, can reproduce? How about viruses? They share even more in common with organisms many consider living but are often considered to be non-life. I doubt a fine line can be established. Probably the simplest self replicating molecules during the process of abiogenesis would not be currently recognized as "life".
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Loudmouth
Inactive Member


Message 82 of 132 (136789)
08-25-2004 12:50 PM
Reply to: Message 80 by NosyNed
08-25-2004 11:44 AM


Re: an important disagreement
quote:
This is a match to what goes on in our brain. There is no consciousness anywhere in there that we can point to but it emerges from all the processes going on in there.

I think this states the problem better than the other analogies brought up so far. There is a difference between a single neuron firing and consciousness. Also, there is a difference between simple chemical reactions within the cell and life itself. As Mammuthus pointed out, this still doesn't give us the ability to draw a line in the sand between life and non-life, but intuitively it makes perfect sense.

We often describe the first life as an imperfect replicator. I think that most investigators involved with abiogenesis would agree that more than one reaction is needed for an imperfect replicator to come about. This would probably include a mechanism for creating nucleotides (RNA or DNA) and a method of elongation through replication. These processes would need to be organized and consume "food", even if it is in the form of simple pyrophosphates or other high energy molecules.

Perhaps we should look at life as a self maintaining set of chemical reactions that is able to produce more of itself. This would separate it from fire, since fire is a single, simple reaction that is able to consume food and replicate itself. However, we would still have to include viruses in this definition of life, but I see no problem with that (where the host cell is considered "food").

Narrowing down the minimum set of chemical reactions may be quite difficult, but this seems to be the goal of abiogenesis research and we may have something close to an answer in the near future.


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lfen
Member (Idle past 2092 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 83 of 132 (136796)
08-25-2004 1:42 PM
Reply to: Message 80 by NosyNed
08-25-2004 11:44 AM


Consciousness and emergent property?
There is no consciousness anywhere in there that we can point to but it emerges from all the processes going on in there.

Ned,

Would you be interested in discussing that in a new thread? I'd like to know why and to what extent you can support consciousness as an emergent. I'd like to look at other possibilites such as is it a fundamental property, or perhaps, as in the eastern nondual approach, is it the fundamental property of the universe in the same sense we call energy/matter a fundamental.

Since consciousness is what enables discussions such at this it is very hard to examine. I'm mostly interested in finding new ways of looking at the problem of what consciousness is.

lfen


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8776
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 5.1


Message 84 of 132 (136809)
08-25-2004 3:09 PM
Reply to: Message 83 by lfen
08-25-2004 1:42 PM


Re: Consciousness and emergent property?
Nope, I don't know enough to carry on much of a conversation. And I don't want to play mystical word games.
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sidelined 
Inactive Suspended Member


Message 85 of 132 (136894)
08-25-2004 11:24 PM
Reply to: Message 80 by NosyNed
08-25-2004 11:44 AM


Re: an important disagreement
NosyNed

"Life" may be difficult to define in the same way that consciousness is because they are both emergent properties.

Agreed,however,are emergent properties not the result of the result of simple laws that in the course of interacting in the world through the vaious forces that we are aware of produce these phenomena that we marvel at? Is consciousness something greater or is it an inherent property of matter under the proper impetus of these basic forces?


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8776
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 5.1


Message 86 of 132 (136946)
08-26-2004 2:01 AM
Reply to: Message 85 by sidelined
08-25-2004 11:24 PM


Re: an important disagreement
Of course it is based on the simpler behavior of the component parts. That's pretty much my understanding of what emergent means.
This message is a reply to:
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Brad McFall
Member (Idle past 2447 days)
Posts: 3428
From: Ithaca,NY, USA
Joined: 12-20-2001


Message 87 of 132 (137044)
08-26-2004 1:04 PM
Reply to: Message 86 by NosyNed
08-26-2004 2:01 AM


Re: an important disagreement
I have always been confused over the notion of "emergence" ( I heard it used in the classroom at Cornell but it did not seem to me to signify anything real) because I have never seen in that literature an exhaustive discussion of (when or if the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts) vs (the notions where the whole is NEVER greater than a sum (no matter which) of the parts). It is clear to mathmaticians of set theory that *transitively* the w, infinite (next after all finites), IS LARGER than the sum of all finite numbers but translating this into geometry seems to have been the reason it was not applied to thoughts about emergence.

Instead, I tend to think that algebra is here and emergence doesn't really exist, even though the cognitions you and others had associated with it in this thread did and does.


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1.61803
Member
Posts: 2678
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 88 of 132 (137166)
08-26-2004 5:25 PM
Reply to: Message 85 by sidelined
08-25-2004 11:24 PM


Re: an important disagreement
Hi sidelined, your quote: "Is consciousness something greater or is it an inherent property of matter under the proper impetus of these basic forces:" This is something I have thought about alot.
I wonder sometimes what is the point of all this? ie:the universe. Of course there does not have to be a point, it can simply just be.I guess I am guilty of grasping on to anything that will keep me out of the pit of nilhism. lol. Somehow through natural processes matter became sentient. Is the ultimate manifestation of energy conciousness? Or is this a feeble attempt to anthropomorphsize reality itself and give a reason for being?
Sounds crazy. Sorry for butting in. *edit typo

This message has been edited by 1.61803, 08-26-2004 04:31 PM


"One is punished most for ones virtues" Fredrick Neitzche
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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sidelined 
Inactive Suspended Member


Message 89 of 132 (137239)
08-26-2004 10:51 PM
Reply to: Message 88 by 1.61803
08-26-2004 5:25 PM


Re: an important disagreement
1.61803

I guess I am guilty of grasping on to anything that will keep me out of the pit of nilhism.

This would make an excellent topic.Why should we avoid the void? LOL.
I think that it is a mistake to feel impending doom as an albatross around the neck and make the change to living life deliberately and allow the end of things to come in its own good time.It is after all the best if not only revenge.
I know a couple of years ago I went into a deep funk {midlife crisis I presume} and couldn't believe so much time had passed in my life and so many things were undone. Like the song says "ten years have got behind you". It is a part of the human condition to think that life has passed you by when you are caught up in the rat race day to day of life chasing silly things.The reality is if you sit down and start to write down the things you have accomplished and the places you have been people you have met etc.it becomes apparent that there really is a huge amount of experience that a person can cram into a life.
I suppose the point of it all is to run your race and pass the baton.
I wish to share with you a thing I read today in the magazine Free Inquiry.

In the story the writer is talking about his father who, after he passed on, became the crux of an ensuing battle with his aunts who demanded that he not be cremated but rather be buried and have a funeral service etc. A similar thing happened when his own wife died of cancer and the in-laws shunned him for his position on having her cremated.

Anyway the thing that got my attention most from the story was a piece of paper his Dad had given him before dying and that his wife treasured so much she had it made into a plaque. This is what it said.

What delightful hosts they are-Love and Laughter!
Lingeringly I turn away at this late hour,yet glad
They have not withheld from me their high hospitality.
So at the door I pause to press their hands once more
And say,"So fine a time!Thank you both...and goodbye.

To me that is the epitome of a high life and a graceful departure.
Later.


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1.61803
Member
Posts: 2678
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 90 of 132 (137274)
08-27-2004 12:53 AM
Reply to: Message 89 by sidelined
08-26-2004 10:51 PM


Re: an important disagreement
Thoughtful and Thanks.
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