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What is the meaning of life?

k9b4

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This thread is about the definition of the word 'life'. The title of the thread was a funny joke. Ha ha.

What arrangement of atoms is classified as 'life'? What must something have in order to be called 'alive'?
Atoms have a life(half-life), so that means that they are living. :rolleyes:
We're hilarious.
 

Grayman

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energy

A hot wire is a live wire

Even a dead body is a live fire.
 

redbaron

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Simlply to survive.

The only thing that every single biological construct shares is the instinct for survival.
 

Glaerhaidh

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Life is such an arrangement of matter that is able to interact with the enviroment either to reproduce or repair itself.

By that definition, one of the simplest life forms is an active virus.
 

Cognisant

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I vaguely remember an industrial process where self replicating molecules are used, the conditions under which they are self replicating are extremely specific, they bond to something and under an electric charge the bond breaks so there's now two of the first thing and a bit of leftover carbon or something.
There's a distinct possibility this was just a dream I once had.

Anyway in the article I may or may not have actually read they referred to this as the simplest form of life because the molecules can replicate if given enough energy/matter and will eventually die as their atoms decay.
 

Anktark

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Life is such an arrangement of matter that is able to interact with the enviroment either to reproduce or repair itself.

By that definition, one of the simplest life forms is an active virus.

Since e=mcc, then we can also include some computer programs too.
 

computerhxr

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Atoms have a life(half-life), so that means that they are living. :rolleyes:

We're hilarious.

I would say that atoms are living, but I cannot say whether or not they have free-will or a consciousness. However, when they chain together with other atoms in a system; they begin to have the ability to deviate from the natural order of things. First, they attain a hive intelligence, then eventually they grow to have their own consciousness.

Each hydrogen atom has the propensity to become a conscious, living entity after a number of years (possibly billions of years). If all atoms are "stringed" together (by electromagnetic force), then we would be chained to a larger central consciousness. At the same time, you can say that consciousness and memory chain down into other existences.

Basically, I'm saying that our brains are a universe in another dimension. Then your imagination has a similar effect as hive intelligence on the other dimension. Eventually, energy will either ascend or descend down the chain or shared consciousness. We would be chained to a larger, universal consciousness.
 

Animekitty

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the meaning of life is entropy reduction
transcendence goes beyond life
 

k9b4

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I would say that atoms are living, but I cannot say whether or not they have free-will or a consciousness. However, when they chain together with other atoms in a system; they begin to have the ability to deviate from the natural order of things. First, they attain a hive intelligence, then eventually they grow to have their own consciousness.

Each hydrogen atom has the propensity to become a conscious, living entity after a number of years (possibly billions of years). If all atoms are "stringed" together (by electromagnetic force), then we would be chained to a larger central consciousness. At the same time, you can say that consciousness and memory chain down into other existences.

Basically, I'm saying that our brains are a universe in another dimension. Then your imagination has a similar effect as hive intelligence on the other dimension. Eventually, energy will either ascend or descend down the chain or shared consciousness. We would be chained to a larger, universal consciousness.
What? I thought you were just joking when you said atoms are alive.

Atoms are most certainly not alive in the same sense that a human is alive.

You are using the word alive to mean different things. Consistency of definitions, please.

Obviously atoms do not have a consciousness. Consciousness is a manifestation of a nervous system, which is a complex arrangement of atoms.

Or is your whole post just one giant joke that I'm missing or something?
 

TimeAsylums

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Simlply to survive.

The only thing that every single biological construct shares is the instinct for survival.

but y suicide

"what is the meaning of life"

google has many definitons of life and so does thy OED and webster

so there u go case closed n solved


also computerhxer is correct, atoms have life, have u ever spoken to dem? they talk back, but he mght be wrng bc only molecules have lives , not atoms
 

Glaerhaidh

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Since e=mcc, then we can also include some computer programs too.
Any mechanism with the potential to preserve or self-propagate, be it synthetic or biological and biological is only a synthetic limited to carbon + hydrogen and historical origin, hence given a separate category.
 

gilliatt

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I am a Philosopher, this is a fair question. We do not know the answer to that question: what is the meaning of life? You could ask: why gravity, why capitalism etc. These are things that never, never change, it is always out there. Let's say a man, well before he is born he is atoms, elements, he is something and a transformation takes place. This man grows & later dies, but does he? Nothing is lost or gained (law of conservation). Birth and death, that is us earthlin terms. Other worlds might call it by a different name, think of it different. Earthlins(99% wrong) do not do a lot of thinking on a deeper level.
 

Yellow

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This thread is about the definition of the word 'life'.
This has always occupied far more of my time than the philosophical "meaning of life" question because I really think we should have a decent definition now, and we don't.

Biologists just have a checklist to determine whether something has life. Does it respond to stimuli? Is it organized? Does it have a chemical homeostasis and metabolism? Does it grow, adapt to its environment, and reproduce? Well, then it's alive. Any no's? Then it's not.

Biophysicists have a more philosophical definition: Any open or continuous systems able to decrease its internal entropy at the expense of substances or free energy taken in from the environment and subsequently rejected in a degraded form [direct quote from Wikipedia because I'm lazy]. But I think it's too vague to be useful.

Both are infuriatingly dissatisfying.
 

OrLevitate

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This has always occupied far more of my time than the philosophical "meaning of life" question because I really think we should have a decent definition now, and we don't.

huh, i do, have for a long time now. also, gilliat is a deity
 

addictedartist

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Life is a cup from an endless ocean and the meaning is the size of the cup :smoker:
 

Seteleechete

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My personal opinion is that life is the ability to consciously think and decide. I make this distinction when it comes to discussing potential afterlifes, cloning and mind transference. As long as I can think, I am alive, not dependant on if I am; in hell/a ghost/in heaven/a clone or even an uploaded AI. I stop living, when I stop thinking. I do not see dumber animals/plants that only act on instinct as alive.
 

Glaerhaidh

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Both are infuriatingly dissatisfying.
Why? Closure of the definition means exclusion in this scenario.
We have viruses, sophisticated life forms, primitive organisms. All share some common traits but not all of them.

Biophysical definition is quite simple and applies well to living or quasi living systems.

If you mean that we cannot learn what is alive by applying a basic definition, well it depends on what definition we use.
 

rainman312

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My personal opinion is that life is the ability to consciously think and decide. I make this distinction when it comes to discussing potential afterlifes, cloning and mind transference. As long as I can think, I am alive, not dependant on if I am; in hell/a ghost/in heaven/a clone or even an uploaded AI. I stop living, when I stop thinking. I do not see dumber animals/plants that only act on instinct as alive.

Does this mean you see unborn/newborn human babies as not alive? I would agree with you on that, but I'm just wondering.
 

Seteleechete

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Does this mean you see unborn/newborn human babies as not alive? I would agree with you on that, but I'm just wondering.


No, newborn babies learn and adapt to rapidly for me to not see them as alive, kinda like a smart dog, which I also consider to be alive.
 
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Yeah I like the biophysical definition, because it opens up more possibilities. It would be interesting to see what would happen if biologists expanded their definition of life to include viruses and gave more consideration to their role in evolution
 

SpaceYeti

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You do realise this is subject of ongoing debate?

Yes, but it does not meet the requisite checks currently used by biology, thus does not count. In biology.
 

Yellow

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You do realise this is subject of ongoing debate?
Yes, but it does not meet the requisite checks currently used by biology, thus does not count. In biology.
I am in the "viruses are not alive" camp. To be more precise, viruses are biological chemicals housed in mineral casings. Or, as I like to think of them: they are teeny, tiny organic robots.
 

Glaerhaidh

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If you can tell what viruses and more complex things do, dividing on camps seems pointless.
Viruses display life-like properties within the host (arguably, their environment), living creatures display life-like properties within their environment.

As long as robots or viruses don't have all the traits associated with animals, they won't be categorised as such, etc.
I don't see why this or another definition would be more important to have since it is the properties that matter.

Reminds me of Pluto is not a planet debate.
 

Yellow

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If you can tell what viruses and more complex things do, dividing on camps seems pointless.
Viruses display life-like properties within the host (arguably, their environment), living creatures display life-like properties within their environment.

As long as robots or viruses don't have all the traits associated with animals, they won't be categorised as such, etc.
I don't see why this or another definition would be more important to have since it is the properties that matter.

Reminds me of Pluto is not a planet debate.
I think the point of these distinctions is to make identifiable categories is a done as a matter of convenience and for clarity. We haven't discovered everything there is to discover. When we do, it is most efficient to have well-defined criteria for comparison. Whether the criteria changes is another issue altogether. Like adjusting/creating the criteria for defining a planet. Pluto isn't a planet. Some people just have issues with change.
 

SpaceYeti

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^ Boom. The reason for the checklist of requirements for life are used so that you know things have those qualities when you say they're "alive". Just like there's a checklist of qualities which makes something a planet, so when you use the word "planet" people know you're talking about something that meets the definition thereof. Similarly, I say "cup" when I mean cup, when I say "plate" I mean plate, and when I say "spoon" I do not mean fork. It's just how language works. Each word has a definition (or several), so that when you use it, people understand what you're trying to communicate.
 

SpaceYeti

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No True Scottsman doesn't apply, as we're discussing (now, it was unintentional, I meant only to elucidate that one minor detail) the very definition of the thing. The NTS fallacy doesn't apply, for example, if I say something doesn't count as a cup if it's flat and, thus, doesn't hold liquids. Cups are necessarily not flat. Similarily, viruses are organic, they're biological, but they're not a form of life because they do not reproduce on their own, nor do they have a metabolism. The line between life and non-life has to be drawn somewhere, and viruses are just on the left side of the line. That's not a problem. viruses are still fascinating, we can still discuss them, just the term "life" doesn't apply. It's really not a big deal.
 
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Yeah, the line has to be drawn somewhere. but then again, with the current checklist, viruses haven't been given much consideration with regard to evolution, bc biologists dismissed them as not alive.
i think it won't hurt to not stick strictly to a definition which is more limited as it might limit new research possibilities
 

Yellow

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viruses haven't been given much consideration with regard to evolution, bc biologists dismissed them as not alive.
I don't think that biologists dismiss viruses by any means. When I was studying for my bio degree, we spent a great deal of time on viruses, particularly because they play such a fascinating role in evolution (in addition to their own adaptive range). In fact, the origin of the placenta (and therefore all eutherian mammals) is generally attributed to genetic information from an endogenous retrovirus.
 

SpaceYeti

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Yeah, the line has to be drawn somewhere. but then again, with the current checklist, viruses haven't been given much consideration with regard to evolution, bc biologists dismissed them as not alive.
i think it won't hurt to not stick strictly to a definition which is more limited as it might limit new research possibilities

That's just plane untrue, though. The evolution of viruses is a huge part of, at the very least, viral infections in humans and, has been noted, some major pieces of our genes come from endogenous retroviruses. You're making a sweeping assumption that because viruses don't incidentally carry the label "life" that they're somehow considered less important due to the lack of said label. That simply isn't the case. Viruses play a huge role in biology. Saying viruses don't get studied because they aren't labeled "alive" is like saying minerals are ignored by dietitians because minerals are not "alive". Dietitians still seem to see value in taking in the proper ratios of minerals. Being a form of life or not is irrelevant. It's studied for what it is.
 

scorpiomover

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What arrangement of atoms is classified as 'life'? What must something have in order to be called 'alive'?
Different people would probably have different answers, especially more competitive types. Personally, I don't care for competitions over truth, unless the contestants' reject their personal and national interests, in answering the question.
 

paradoxparadigm7

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Definitions and categories are useful, practical as well as necessary. The term 'life' can then be used to include or exclude. And as Yellow points out, the definition can also change as more is learned. This is not truth but careful studied consensus.

The quality of what it means to 'be alive' is a whole nuther matter that addictedartist points to:)
 

gjl

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Definitions are linguistically relative. Objects of thought, or words, can be extensively subdivided into other definitions and terms that refer to them from different angles and perspectives (different languages and perceptions). Definitions thus occupy both the sublanguage and metalanguage strata of the object language containing the word.

When an object reaches a linguistically (or computationally) quantifiable level (as yet undefined) of complexity relating to its own ability to self-actualise and strategically process information from its environment, modify its internal configuration, and generate an output to survive/reproduce, etc., it could be considered to be alive in some respects. Life, when observed from different levels of abstraction can become quantised and granular.
 

Neckbeard

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I like to think I'm making the world a worse place to live in by existing, that's pretty much my only purpose in life.

If I triggered a nuclear war, my life would be complete.
 

Glaerhaidh

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I like to think I'm making the world a worse place to live in by existing, that's pretty much my only purpose in life.

If I triggered a nuclear war, my life would be complete.
Thing is, nuclear death releases everyone from the throes of suffering. Instantly and conveniently, without a chance to grieve or reminisce.

You might think it's especially evil, but it just might be 0 sum.

Though if you ever systematically do something sick to someone else, you've become worthless. Then your MO is defined externally based on the object you seek to destroy.
 

Vicissitude

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This thread is about the definition of the word 'life'. The title of the thread was a funny joke. Ha ha.

What arrangement of atoms is classified as 'life'? What must something have in order to be called 'alive'?

We're hilarious.

I was thinking about the similarities of the real and digital world. Each has their own base unit, the atom and the bit. Lots of them together make up things.

Regarding your question, i think we will know when weve finally developed artificial intelligent, or at least that was my conclusion during my thoughts.

There are a few categories that must be satisfied for science to consider something living.
1) responds to stimuli
2) maintains homeostasis
3) reproduces
4) metabolizes
5) growth
6) organization through cells
 

Reluctantly

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I'd consider anything that can react to a changing environment to be a live. And if it shows some kind of self-awareness, it's a little more special.

I don't think viruses do either of this, by the way. They simply mutate in a random manner and sometimes the mutation is beneficial, but most of the time it's not. Basically, their ability to adapt is not directed or controlled by them. They can't make decisions to adapt and thrive. They don't have that kind of ability. They are more like a parasite, destroying the host, biting the hand that feeds, without any regard to it. It's actually kind of pathetic.
 

DrSketchpad

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^
^
^
After not being able to come up with a good answer myself, I like this one.
 
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