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Life ....?
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Posted 3/10/07

kawaii_gaijin wrote:

Off topic but~
I was all for stem cells until they found something better. God, can't remember what it's called but stem cell research will soon be passed up by technology. I mean, come on. Stem cells just aren't stable enough, no matter how much research they do.

If you look at the studies many of them fail after short lived success.



But some have actually worked quite well... take for example the use of adult stem cells and how they've been able to help women get rid of weakened-bladder problems.



Anyway... is there really any set definition of life? 'Life' is a man-made word... we cannot be certain that it was intended for us to classify animate from inanimate beings. I do agree that the existence of free will has some affect on how we view the outside world, however what really does give us life? Are we just puppets for some supernatural being, being used to enact the eventual demise of this world?

The fact that some scientists have said it is chemicals in the brain which influence our emotions and thought processes, does not necessarily mean that we would all think the same, regardless... our physical environment (i.e.: each situation we experience personally) influences the way each of these chemicals react with each other, making us all individuals.
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Posted 3/10/07
^ u go!! what 'life r we on about? human's or the unknown?? well basically we gone through evolution and we were first molecules that was formed by the influence of the earth's energy(apparently an electric bolt reacting with HO2) but anyways yeah why are humans the ones whith knowledge? it's cause we obviuosly adapt to things and become more intelligent because of our willpower and evolution....for instance the dodo died out because thier race was retarded. the question i would like to ask is why does existence exist???????!?!?!?!?!?!?! sure as said above by Vider we could be puppets of a supernatural being, but then that would probably make him a puppet too. Anyways later on as we gain knowledge we created a fantasy (this world) that was soon to become true because of our intelligence and willpower (makes u wonder why people are afraid of 'ghosts'; we are like spirits, with our nervous system and brain conducted and influenced by electricity or energy, our will power creates spirits as though our bodies were a container), we created language and shit like that, it's actually amazing that we managed to even talk and wonder about 'life'.......because actually...they don't exist(at least it ain't supposed to). Yes we are all deluded puppets..........cus if you look at the whole of existence, we are like pieces of paper...RANDOM LOL yop that was pointless random info....i don't even know why i typed this, it doesn't even make sense..............
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Posted 3/10/07

Trivium wrote:
Life isnt defined on whether the subject is aware of their own existence or free will. That would really narrow down the list of living things if we looked at it that way, pretty much all plant life would probably be regarded as non living, then wed enter the gray zone of wondering whether animals actually are aware of themselves etc.


I agree with Trivium on how life isn't defined as to having free will or not.


logain wrote:

...we humans are born from inanimate objects

How do you justify that humans come from inanimate objects? No one knows for sure how humans and other living organisms were formed.


henz_lan wrote:

Let's take a look at which of the 7 life processes they have;

Movement - Yes, there are moving parts in my laptop, such as the fan and the DVD Drive which are purely automatic (controlled by the computer itself)

Respiration - This is the most difficult to determine. If we consider the whole system then at some point (in a power station) chemical energy is transfered into electricity, which is in turn used in the computer in the same way as glucose (chemical energy) is used to make ATP (serving the role of electricity for cells). It all depends upon your definition of respiration. However, having found life forms which respire using sulphur, I will claim that computers (as part of the larger electricity network) respire.

Sense - my computer can sense, that is it can receive information from outside, I would claim that key presses are a crude form of touch sensitivity.

Nutrition - well, what do we mean by nutrition, if electricity is the food form of a computer then yes it does, or we might mean the fuel used at the power station. Still following the answer for respiration, yes, computers can "eat" (again as part of the larger electricity network)

Excrete - Heat is a form of excretion, my computer produces heat, so it excretes.

Reproduce - My PC can't do this, however it can reproduce it's own data (equivalent to DNA) on a hard disk when presented.

Grow - again this only applies to the data, which can grow, given the correct nutrient sources (the internet / CDs)

From this it seems that computers are getting pretty close to being "alive" we've got to watch out! Then again, our definitions of "life" will always stem from our experience of it. There may be many different forms of life out there in the universe which do not follow our "rules".


you forgot to list a few things from biology class. =)
A living organism must
-be composed of cells
-need some form of heat
-rely mainly on carbon, hydrogen and oxygen to survive. such as water. all organisms need water in order to survive.

The 7 life processes + what I just listed = life

I didn't bother saying that life has to come from another life form because if you think about where the first living organisms came from, it's possible that it did not come from a life form that can be classified into these points. There's also the possibility of aliens not following these things.
However, we can conclude that life on earth has to follow these things, or else the thing is not considered living.

That would be the most basic way of looking at it.
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Posted 3/10/07
^one exception: those organisms living below the chemocline breath Hydrogen Sulfide gas. Anyways, if life is just these processes, then that eliminates the idea of us having a soul.
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Posted 3/10/07
Well a short reply to logain. If you want to understand the scientific concept of life thats easy enough...an organism that undergoes natural selection, reproduces, and so on. Just look it up.

The second question is much more interesting. And your answer indicatates you know little of science or philosophy. Some non sequential quotes from GEB:

In a word, GEB is a very personal attempt to say how it is that animate beings can come out of stuff that is a s selfless as a stone or puddle? What is an "I" [...]

GEB approaches these questions by slowly building up an analogy that likens inanimate molecules to meaningless symbols, and further likens selves [...] to certain special swirly, twisty, vortex-like, and meaningful patters that arise only in particular types of systems of meaningless symbols.

As I see it, the only way of overcoming this magical view of what "I" and consciousness are is to keep on reminding oneself [...] that the "teetering bulb of dread and dream" that nestles safely inside one's own cranium is a purely physical object made up of completely sterile and inanimate components, all of which obey exactly the same laws as those that govern all the rest of the universe, such as pieces of text or CD-ROM's, or computers. Only if one keeps on basing up against this disturbing fact can one slowly begin to develop a fell for the way out of the mystery of consciousness: that the key is not the stuff out of which brains are made, but the patterns that can come to exist inside the stuff of a brain.

As far as free will, I would consider myself a compatibilist.
http://www.optimal.org/peter/freewill.htm
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Posted 3/10/07
Do you philosophise? yes? then you have free will
No? then you have free will too because you just philosophised.

"The problem of causality is a problem of freedom and not vice versa" - (from some book by Marty Heidegger)

basically we philosophise because of our freedom,

but i don't think freedom is what gives us life, but it sure makes us feel alive
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Posted 3/11/07

Vider wrote:


kawaii_gaijin wrote:

Off topic but~
I was all for stem cells until they found something better. God, can't remember what it's called but stem cell research will soon be passed up by technology. I mean, come on. Stem cells just aren't stable enough, no matter how much research they do.

If you look at the studies many of them fail after short lived success.



But some have actually worked quite well... take for example the use of adult stem cells and how they've been able to help women get rid of weakened-bladder problems.



Anyway... is there really any set definition of life? 'Life' is a man-made word... we cannot be certain that it was intended for us to classify animate from inanimate beings. I do agree that the existence of free will has some affect on how we view the outside world, however what really does give us life? Are we just puppets for some supernatural being, being used to enact the eventual demise of this world?

The fact that some scientists have said it is chemicals in the brain which influence our emotions and thought processes, does not necessarily mean that we would all think the same, regardless... our physical environment (i.e.: each situation we experience personally) influences the way each of these chemicals react with each other, making us all individuals.


Yes but I don't think they're going to be able to cure diseases anytime soon. I think we need something better (good luck us?)

Mmm, I agree no one will think the same, but that's so simple it seems like common sense...I guess we all try to think to much about these types of things and come up with grandeur answers that just sound nice? I agree then, lets stick to the basics?

We are all different? Sounds good to me (^^)
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Posted 3/11/07

henz_lan wrote:

^I can claim that that doesn't exist either [free will on a individual level that is]. We are purely a result of everything that has gone to make us; basically our genes and our environment.
Everything we do is a result of one of these things.
An old idea I learnt at middle school regarding "defining life", is the following;

Life must;
Move
Respire
Sense
Nutrition (ie. eat)
Excrete
Reproduce
Grow

(known as the the 7 life processes)

These all appear to be things governed by genes (though of course we can't eat if our environment contains no food). On this premise alone it can be claimed that life does not require free will, only these inherent qualities/characteristics.

Commenting upon the idea of "random probability giving the illusion of free will" as logain said previously; There is no such thing as pure randomness. All "random" occurences are governed by very precise probabalistic laws, such as the wave functions describing uncertainty or half lives describing (purely random on an atomic level) radioactive decay. Thus, everything is ordered, and free will must be coming from something which is not "physical" in nature, as all physical objects are governed by the deterministic (causal) laws of physics.

If free will comes from something "non-physical" then we can never find it. On the whole it is much easier to work with the presumption that there is no such thing as free will. If we consider it to exist then any form of medical investigation or psychological test will be plagued by the problem "that might have been caused by free will". Fortunately no large random variable has been found in most medical experiments, giving evidence against the existence of free will.

Returning the problem of defining life; I believe that life cannot be defined. Currently our computers are more "intelligent" than living animals such as sea-slugs, however we do not consider them living.
Why don't we consider them living?
Let's take a look at which of the 7 life processes they have;

Movement - Yes, there are moving parts in my laptop, such as the fan and the DVD Drive which are purely automatic (controlled by the computer itself)

Respiration - This is the most difficult to determine. If we consider the whole system then at some point (in a power station) chemical energy is transfered into electricity, which is in turn used in the computer in the same way as glucose (chemical energy) is used to make ATP (serving the role of electricity for cells). It all depends upon your definition of respiration. However, having found life forms which respire using sulphur, I will claim that computers (as part of the larger electricity network) respire.

Sense - my computer can sense, that is it can receive information from outside, I would claim that key presses are a crude form of touch sensitivity.

Nutrition - well, what do we mean by nutrition, if electricity is the food form of a computer then yes it does, or we might mean the fuel used at the power station. Still following the answer for respiration, yes, computers can "eat" (again as part of the larger electricity network)

Excrete - Heat is a form of excretion, my computer produces heat, so it excretes.

Reproduce - My PC can't do this, however it can reproduce it's own data (equivalent to DNA) on a hard disk when presented.

Grow - again this only applies to the data, which can grow, given the correct nutrient sources (the internet / CDs)

From this it seems that computers are getting pretty close to being "alive" we've got to watch out! Then again, our definitions of "life" will always stem from our experience of it. There may be many different forms of life out there in the universe which do not follow our "rules".


is this true in scientific imformation???
Posted 3/11/07

yongharn wrote:

Free will is just an illusion created by our intellect so that we can pretend to have some control over our own lives.


hence free will doesnt exist. i agree.
Posted 3/11/07

mauz15 wrote:


henz_lan wrote:
On the whole it is much easier to work with the presumption that there is no such thing as free will.

what about moral responsibility?
And heat is not a form of excretion, is a form of energy!


Moral Responsibilty can be accepted along with the idea that free will is non existent. For example, why do we put people in jail?
We put them in jail not because we consider them to have the free will to choose not to go to prison, but because it is a strong deterent (causal factor) behind people not commiting crimes. Prison is a major punishment, therefore people don't commit crimes, they invent moral responsibilty as a sideline to support their view that those who do commit crimes should go to prison. And those who do commit crimes, why send them to prison? well, it is a physical imposibilty that they commit any more crimes. In addition it helps those outside of prison, by allowing them to live "safe" lives.
We also introduce the idea of philanthropy purely because it is a way of advancing your own cause and that of the human race. What is our aim in life? => to reproduce, therefore we'll show off in any way, being a philanthropist shows off kindness (ability to look after children/spouse is implied) and wealth! I know this is a really cynical view, I still consider myself moral.

Heat is a form of excretion, it is the form of energy into which all the energy in the universe will eventually turn, it is the lowest form of energy.
Excretion is a waste product, heat is a waste product of respiration. Humans, and other animals, have whole systems devoted to heat control, in some cases it is useful (when it's cold) and in cases it is truly wasteful (under hot conditions) and must be excreted.
Consider what happens to all the stuff we consume;
1. Broken down
2. some of it is respired, some is built into our bodies, some is excreted directly.
3. that which is respired turns to heat eventually
4. that which is built into our bodies is eventually broken down and respired by bacteria after our death, it is turned into heat.
5. that which we excrete directly is broken down by bacteria and is turned into heat.
Eventually all the energy on the planet will have been converted to heat, and lost into space (not that this'll happen quickly, I recon that the Sun will give up long before we experience a local "heat death").
And finally, all excretion is energy, just in an unusable form, consider E=m(c^2), all mass is energy, all excretion (appart from heat) has mass, and is therefore energy.

Refering to "all life must have cells" => what is a fungal root system then, it contains no celular borders, but fungi are alive! Cell theory is horribly disputed.
And "all life must use water" => why must it, it could just as easily use some other form of liquid, water just happens to have some useful properties, however methanol would work okay as well (both have hydrogen bonding). And carbon, why not silicon? it also forms backbones and can be used to produce lipid like substances which form cell like structures in solution. Just because we haven't found it yet doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

kfreako, it was "true" when I heard it, whether you believe it or not is your "choice". Truth is relative to what you believe in the first place (for the moment at least)

Those people who have been saying that because we have no free will we have no control are taking this too far, it is because we have no free will that we have control, we know what one action is going to cause. We know that if we give you this pill you will be cured, we know that if we give you this treatment there is a 90% chance that you will get better, we know that if we start a systematic reduction of graphiti and fare jumping on trains crime rates drop. Because we know what happens (determinism) we know what to do, and can control what happens.
logain 
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Posted 3/12/07
wow I never chekced this thread bcuz I thought no one would reply well let me start with commeninting starting from the first post

@Henz_Ian (1st post) so yu are saying that there is no probability but every action is pre detirmined by complex physics equeations and laws beyond human understanding. Let me just give you an example of rolling a die, even though it is probably not an example of probabllity because it is detirmined by equations that are impossible for humans to decipher then our ignorance gives rise to probability. A shift in the hand to about half a micro centimeter might have adverse effects on the die, but if there is no free will then how did I decide to throw a die, was it also decided by some complex equation in my brain or was it just chance that I decided on it. If my motion of the hand or my decision to throw the die was dictated by a complex physical equation in my brain then there would be no probability but then my every action is already preditermined and I would be nothing than a puppet who is controlled by laws.So my entire life is predetermined and I have no say in it So there has to be probability and free will or we would nothing more than lifeless biengs.

I am going to comment to everyones post but I am too sleepy to do so right now
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Posted 3/12/07
Nothing in this world can be defined. Emotions, the mind, spirituality, and etc can never be truely defined. What are they? Where do they come from? and so on.
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Posted 3/12/07
Hey. . .people learn from the intangible to get to the tangible. . .Therefore, to make sense of sanity one has to look at insanity. . .that is how one defines which from the other. . .that goes for free will. . .There has to be free will to have a sense of NO free will. . .

If everything is predetermined. . .then that means my brain shouldn't be working right now and just follow what is program into me. . .
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Posted 3/13/07
@henz_lan: Yeah I see what you're saying about heat.


it is because we have no free will that we have control
I think that statement it's just self-defeating, regardless of the explanation that you provided after.

Determinism is the theory that everything in the universe is governed by casual laws, so whatever happens at some given moment it's the effect of some antecedent cause, now while this is the "basic presupposition" in science (no such thing is an uncaused event) you have to remember that sometimes this definition is modified to include the macrocosmic world, but leaving the microcosmic world out.

Basically the argument is this:

1. Every event (state of affairs) must have a cause
2. Human actions (as well as the agents who gives rise to the action) are events (state of affairs)
3. It follows that every human action (including the agent) is a cause
4. Therefore, determinism it's true.

Now why do we believe that everything has a cause?
This is obvious, it is because of experience and inductive reasoning. I don't know about you, but as far as I know it's very difficult to imagine an uncaused event. We have an enormous range of experience proving that there's a casual explanation for individual events.
The problem with this answer is that we have only experienced a small part of the universe, it is not enough to warrant the conclusion that every event must have a cause.

I'll post more later, btw please don't think I'm trying to attack you henz, I'm just posting what I know about this part of logain's question.
I'm a compatibilist like Eros, however, answering this question satisfactorily is far from over because even Compatibilism has it's weak points.
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Posted 3/13/07
Theories on Determinism, the existence of free will, and the like are all well and good. But for something as broad and general as the definition of life, I believe one must apply Occham's Razor (The principle of rejecting all possible solutions to a problem, save for the simplest, most direct one) to produce and equally broad answer:

If it fears its own death, it is alive.

Or in more specific terms:

If an entity is capable of taking measures to prevent the ending of it's existence, it is alive.
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