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Author Topic: There could be life captain  (Read 17729 times)

another_someone

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Re: There could be life captain
« Reply #50 on: 15/03/2006 15:05:27 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep
...however, I would say fire does make offspring...sparks from it produce new flames and hence offspring.




I would question your notion of offspring because I would question the notion of a uniquely identifiable fire (fires can merge as well as split, so one cannot regard as fire as a self contained organism with defined boundaries that would allow one to unambiguously define a parent and a child).

That aside, fir will fail Robin's (wolfram) evolution test fires have no variable inheritable traits that might be the basis for evolution.

That having been said, evolution is a relatively modern concept, and one has to ask whether it is appropriate to base a definition of life on a presumption of evolution (a notion that some religious groups would I think not accept although I don't think they would have any problem with the notion of inheritable traits as such).

quote:

Someone who can no longer produce children is still clearly alive and therefore does indeed subscribe to perhaps an alternate definition for the word life, be it through a sterilization process or just plain old age.................




So, do we now have two definitions for life, or will this alternative definition of life suffice on its own, and can we discard the concept of reproduction as a basis of the definition of life?

Would you like to hazard a guess as to what this new definition might be?

That having been said, and a moment of reflection, I don't think the above obstacle is as much of a problem as I originally proposed we simply have to reverse our definition of life rather than saying that life is that which is capable of reproduction, we could better say that life is the product of reproduction (now why didn't you think of that do I need to carry both sides of the argument myself :D)

Although, even the above redefinition has a problem with how do we exclude corpses from our definition (although, within some limitations, I think there may be ways around that, although those ways might have a problem with defining the exact moment of death).



George
« Last Edit: 15/03/2006 15:19:03 by another_someone »
 

Offline wolram

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Re: There could be life captain
« Reply #51 on: 15/03/2006 15:29:37 »

Someone who can no longer produce children is still clearly alive and therefore does indeed subscribe to perhaps an alternate definition for the word life, be it through a sterilization process or just plain old age.................

May be one can not adjudge an unknown individual as alive, if we can not
communicate with it, it shows no sign of reproduction, and does not
consume food , It would have to be a community of (aliens)
we study, if they did none of the above it would be difficult to
call them alive.

A born optomist
« Last Edit: 15/03/2006 15:35:28 by wolram »
 

another_someone

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Re: There could be life captain
« Reply #52 on: 15/03/2006 16:23:59 »
quote:
Originally posted by wolram
May be one can not adjudge an unknown individual as alive, if we can not
communicate with it, it shows no sign of reproduction, and does not
consume food , It would have to be a community of (aliens)
we study, if they did none of the above it would be difficult to
call them alive.




I agree about whether we are able to judge whether something is alive or not but that is different from how we define whether something is alive or not.  It may well be the case that we cannot determine whether an individual meets that definition without seeing a large number of individuals, but nonetheless, in order to be able to say something is alive, we must be able to say that each and every individual meets the definition of being alive (it's no good simply saying that because 60% of those we see are demonstrably alive, therefore we define not assume, but define - that they are all alive).

OK, I would put forward the following tests for something to be regarded as living:

a) It must be able to modify its environment in a way that assists its survival (even bacteria can do this).

b) It must be the product of imperfect reproduction.  The nature of the imperfections must be themselves inheritable, and relevant to the ability of the organism to survive.  This logically leads to a need for a clearly defined parent child relationship (this would exclude fire).

c) Not really a separate matter, since it is a natural consequence of the above conditions, the organism must have clearly defined bounds (you must be able to say throughout the life of the organism that you can state what is a part of the organism and what is not a part of the organism).

d) In order to settle problems with defining the bounds of an organism, particularly with regard to organisms that share the same genetic code (e.g. identical twins or plants grown from cuttings), I would say one should be able to find a way of killing an entire organism by attacking only one part of an organism (if you remove a vital organ from a twin, you will kill the entire individual, but not their twin sibling).


With regard to Niel's question pertaining to God, God is (in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions) perfect, and not the product of reproduction (if one looked at Gods in the classical Greek pantheon, one might see a different picture).

OK, first question do people have any major problems with the above definitions.

If the above is agreeable, how would you go about testing whether a particular entity met those criteria or not?



George
« Last Edit: 15/03/2006 16:54:08 by another_someone »
 

Offline neilep

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Re: There could be life captain
« Reply #53 on: 15/03/2006 17:07:19 »
Phew George !!..You don't arf give food for thought and force others to use their brain !! (you need a new contract !!)...I'm going to sit back for a while, twiddle my thumbs ** before I accidentally delete this thread also !!




**actually this means I'm going to wait until someone else answers !!

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Offline wolram

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Re: There could be life captain
« Reply #54 on: 15/03/2006 20:52:48 »

b) It must be the product of imperfect reproduction. The nature of the imperfections must be themselves inheritable, and relevant to the ability of the organism to survive. This logically leads to a need for a clearly defined parent child relationship (this would exclude fire).

I am not sure about this, there may be a way to (clone) that is natural
to some alien life form, not very good for enviromental adaptation, but
if said enviroment is stable over large time scales evolution may be
un neccesary.

A born optomist
 

another_someone

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Re: There could be life captain
« Reply #55 on: 15/03/2006 22:44:59 »
quote:
Originally posted by wolram


b) It must be the product of imperfect reproduction. The nature of the imperfections must be themselves inheritable, and relevant to the ability of the organism to survive. This logically leads to a need for a clearly defined parent child relationship (this would exclude fire).

I am not sure about this, there may be a way to (clone) that is natural
to some alien life form, not very good for enviromental adaptation, but
if said enviroment is stable over large time scales evolution may be
un neccesary.

A born optomist



The only stable environment is a sterile environment (i.e. a dead environment).

More directly, if we find a life form that is incapable of evolution, how would you suggest the life form evolved in the first place (unless we accept intelligent design as a mechanism)?



George
 

Offline wolram

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Re: There could be life captain
« Reply #56 on: 15/03/2006 23:07:46 »
More directly, if we find a life form that is incapable of evolution, how would you suggest the life form evolved in the first place (unless we accept intelligent design as a mechanism)?

No ID, is not in my book :) i do find it interesting trying to define
life, and the possible forms it may take, even if there is life other than ours in the u, i guess any advantage to humanity would require higher intelligence, or least a life form that can develop thinking on
a par with ours.

A born optomist
« Last Edit: 15/03/2006 23:12:33 by wolram »
 

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Re: There could be life captain
« Reply #56 on: 15/03/2006 23:07:46 »

 

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