Life vs non life | INFJ Forum

Life vs non life

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by TinyBubbles, Apr 15, 2010.

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  1. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    Do you think there is a difference between the organic, living breathing world, and the non-living world, ie. oceans, mountains, the sky, asteroids, etc. vs. people, trees, animals, grass, bacteria? Everything's a unique composition of the same 118 elements, apparently, but is there something MORE in living things, in human beings for example, that differentiates us from, say, a rock?

    You know what I'm getting at.. souls... spiritual connections.. consciousness, free will, etc. is there something immaterial in life that is not there in non-life?

    And since life apparently sprang up from nonlife (abiogenesis.. even the creation story had an "earth" before the arrival of "man"), this would mean that non life at least has the POTENTIAL to become life.. if not now maybe in a million years, gold will form the basis of a new organism's exoskeleton, for example, so what does that mean about gold now? And all other non life? If there is a soul inherent in all living things, then the assumption is that it was there before the physical body (and would "survive" after the death of the body), so if a clump of gold now becomes part of a lifeform later, is it in some sense, alive now?

    As always, would love to hear your thoughts.
     
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  2. muir

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    Beautifully put :)
     
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  3. OP
    TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    Thankyou, but what is your opinion on the idea?
     
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  4. muir

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    Everything is connected and everything flows back to the source
     
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  5. Puck

    Puck Perilous Pixie
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    The world has a soul. We are all part of it.
     
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  6. Blase

    Blase Regular Poster

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    I've thought about this a lot too, but not in a while, so I probably won't be able to explain myself as much as I'd like. but here we go, get ready for a rant.

    there's no real definition for consciousness, but it seems to me that anything called a soul or consciousness can basically be explained as a processing of information. here the question of "what is information?" becomes vital.

    if information somehow existed before matter and the universe, and matter exists only because of some information processing which preceded it, then this information could be called god, the soul, or whatever you'd like. it would be like an immaterial blueprint which somehow creates matter out of nothing. but in this case, this information field permeates all that exists, so even nonliving matter has a "soul" in a sense. the "soul" of a rock has simply not yet been processed into a more complex form of existence.

    but non-life regularly becomes life. a seed takes in non-living vitamins and minerals through the soil, which it accumulates into itself, rearranging non-living chemicals into biochemicals as part of a living organism. lets say its a carrot. now, a pregnant woman eats this carrot. a portion of the nutrients obtained from the carrot serve as materials for the self-constructing body of the child she bears, including its brain. I'm not doing a great job at this, but I think you get the idea.

    this approach would imply that absolutely everything arises from one big soul that we are all a part of, and that all things, living or not, are really part of the same entity, stemming from the same source. abiogenesis happened because the information behind chemicals somehow "learned" their way into forming life. they planned it semi-intelligently

    on the other hand, one could say that information arises from matter, not vise versa. for instance, only in complex chemical structures like DNA does information start to appear, separating it from the non-living. in this sense the degree of one's consciousness depends on its level of material complexity. it could be argued that something like a virus would have some degree of consciousness, but nowhere comparable to the level of animals.

    though I used to like the "panentheism", implied by the first case, I think the second case is more likely. according to this second one, there is a difference between life and non-life, just as we observe it. however, the difference is merely the level of material complexity, from which complex information processing emerges. this goes to imply that there is no god or soul, evolution has no intelligent designer, but merely happened as random material interactions. abiogenesis was merely the product of a certain circumstance. the material, natural existence is really all there is. this is kind of an uncomfortable way of looking at existence, but it seems to make the most sense.

    I'm not going to say either of these possibilities are true, theres a constant debate going on in my head, but lately the latter case has been winning. I'll try to cut myself off here before I go on for too long, I hope you at least got something out of that.
     
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  7. Ecton

    Ecton Community Member

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    I don't know. This is something I would like to know better. So far, no luck.
    Blase, I like your thinking. No, I mean it. Keep it up.
     
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    #7 Ecton, Apr 16, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2010
  8. Norton

    Norton XXXX

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    According to the Gaia hypothesis, both living things and nonliving things on Earth are interconnected, interdependent and in ecological balance (a dynamic "balance" which may not be in equilibrium--so balance is not a good word here). So, one can think of all things on Earth as constituting a super "living" system or, even, entity in and of itself. Super complex systems such as this always include a synergy where the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.
     
  9. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    My tribal friends believe one should show respect for all of creation....everything. I think that's the way to go.
     
  10. Ecton

    Ecton Community Member

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    Wouldn't it be something if the universe was full of these beings? I wonder if they get along.
     
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  11. Jack

    Jack Community Member

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    Gold would make a crappy exoskeleton, the metal is too soft. Titanium would be better, it is light, and very strong.

    At any rate, I think the sides of "yes there is" and "no there isn't" supernatural stuff, are pretty much philosophically stalemated, but again that's imo.
     
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  12. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    Life/nonlife can be viewed in many respects. Right now I have been thinking about "drive.":

    Non living things are driven/moved/changed/improved by things outside themselves.

    Living things drive/move/change/improve themselves.

    The difference is the "drive", not the material elements - so gold will always be a metalic transition element to me, but if it is integrated into an organism's exoskeleton, it is the life that has integrated it, that I'll be in awe of.
     
  13. Vulcan

    Vulcan Newbie

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    It seems that all matter, down to the smallest observable level, is made up of smaller parts, which themselves are made up of even smaller parts. From such a perspective, it's easy to see all of existence as one giant interconnected system, because it's hard to establish hard and fast criteria to differentiate things.

    I've read part of E.F. Schumacher's "A Guide For the Perplexed" in which he claims that there are four different types of being: mineral, animal, plant, and man. He thinks that levels of consciousness increase from mineral (none) to human (self-aware). His views would be one such way of establishing criteria to conceptualize existence.
     
  14. Norton

    Norton XXXX

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    Maybe it is. I've always thought that "life" is defined too narrowly.
     
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