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~...A New Way...~

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burnt said:
Earth and environmental science is great but yes I am rejecting the idea that the earth is trying to maintain homeostasis for life and I am also rejecting the idea that the earth can be considered alive.

We can make thread about gaia hypothesis if you like. We may have once before. Anyway the earth just doesn't fit the criteria that are required to be defined as live. A major one is that it can't reproduce. Virus's don't really fit them all either but that's why there are kinda not alive but have life like qualities.

Yea it's all coming back to me now. In the sense that an organism has to reproduce and be part of a greater community, the earth certainly doesn't fit. For example, I agree that the earth couldn't truly have evolved homeostasis because there was no competition between planets that could have selected for it. The main objection to such a strict definition would be that viruses, for example, wouldn't fit either, but you've already addressed this above. Although I would say that the simplistic question of whether something is "alive" or not may destroy some of the subtly of the real world. I think its a convenient, but in the end arbitrary, definition, that shouldn't be confused with the reality it describes. I've always seen it more like shades of gray, although that isn't to say there's no difference between how a virus, an organism, and the earth as a whole fit in relation to this concept. My main problem is with the idea that an "organism" embodies some individual life force that no other levels of (biological/etc.) organization do.

burnt said:
A hand clapping sounds like a hand clapping. Different hands and different force gives different types of claps and different kinds of ears may perceive claps differently or not at all. Claps are the result of electromagnetic radiation hitting our ear drum and sending a signal into our brain where we create the perception of sound. Buddhist riddles don't really reveal anything.
I'm not sure you really understand the idea of the koan. I was under the impression it's an illogical, almost solution-less riddle that's supposed to expose the futility of analytical thought. It's supposed to illustrate that ultimately thinking is a cheap substitute for doing, and one can never understand the basest nature of existence until one simply 'is.' Or maybe not even that "being" is better than "thinking," but just that there is such a thing as "being," which we seldom experience. Sorry I'm no Buddhist master :d and I'm sure even if I did a little research I could never do the concept justice, so I'll leave it at that. My original interest was in the similarities I'd noticed between people's descriptions of experiencing koans to my own feelings when thinking about the non-existence of the universe.

I didn't have time to look at the videos you linked to today but hopefully I'll be able to soon enough.
 
yes in some ways to definition is arbitrary. that's why something like a virus is in the gray area. but still there are features that all life have in common and those features non living stuff simple doesn't have.

I'm not sure you really understand the idea of the koan. I was under the impression it's an illogical, almost solution-less riddle that's supposed to expose the futility of analytical thought. It's supposed to illustrate that ultimately thinking is a cheap substitute for doing, and one can never understand the basest nature of existence until one simply 'is.' Or maybe not even that "being" is better than "thinking," but just that there is such a thing as "being," which we seldom experience. Sorry I'm no Buddhist master Very happy and I'm sure even if I did a little research I could never do the concept justice, so I'll leave it at that. My original interest was in the similarities I'd noticed between people's descriptions of experiencing koans to my own feelings when thinking about the non-existence of the universe.

your right i was kind of making a koan about a koan to point out how rediculuous they can be.

i am not a fan of buddhism. i don't believe the only way to be free of suffering is to completely reject the self. i think anyone who wants to complete destroy their self and ego has mental problems and hence buddhism really is a tool for the mentally ill who can't deal with the world.
 
i think anyone who wants to complete destroy their self and ego has mental problems and hence buddhism really is a tool for the mentally ill who can't deal with the world.

Buddhists don't want to destroy the self or the ego, because - according to them - such a thing does not exist.

It may be true that the majority of westerners who are involved with spiritual/esoteric/religious practice today tend to use these systems for escape. It's a trap (self-delusion) that is quite difficult to get over.
 
I think you can interpret budhism in many ways. This is also being done.
You have very strict, conservative schools.
You also have more enlightened schools.

Budhist philosophy is not to be seen as self destruction.
It resembles in many ways, modern western psychology.

The idea of destroying the 'ego' is more to be seen as; daring to look critically to yourself. The idea of 'karma' relates to how the consequences of your actions turn out. When you don't want to face yourself and your own fallability, your actions will come to haunt you and others as some sort of destiny.
'ego' means 'image'. Destroying the ego is all about being honest towards yourself and others and not to be obsessed by an image of yourself and trying to live up to that image.

This is very freudian, without the freudian bullshit of eodipus and girls wanting to have penisses and blaming their mother for not having one.

And it is very true as well; most gay-bashers are secretly gay themselves for instance. Accepting themselves (letting go of the ego)as they realy are, would be better for themselves and many others as well(karma), wich almost speaks for itself.

Budhism is about accepting ourselves and letting go of how we would rather see ourselves. And it doesn't only apply to extreme people like gay-bashers, suicide terrorists or SM-freaks.
 
Hehe I am just messing around on the buddhists. Its one of few religions that does accept naturalistic explanations for things and even its leader (although I think hes being a little flakey) said he would change beliefs if science lead him too.
 
burnt said:
yes in some ways to definition is arbitrary. that's why something like a virus is in the gray area. but still there are features that all life have in common and those features non living stuff simple doesn't have.

Just as a final word, I'd like to hear a meaningful hard-and-fast definition of "life" because as far as I know, one does not exist. :p
 
For me anything from bacteria up is life. I don't really consider viruses alive although in some ways they are. I wouldn't consider a self replicating piece of RNA necessarily alive either but it has life like aspects. Life really is a definition human beings give to things. But there are many differences between things that are fully alive like a bacteria and a rock thats not alive at all. A virus is a bit inbetween.
 
burnt said:
For me anything from bacteria up is life. I don't really consider viruses alive although in some ways they are. I wouldn't consider a self replicating piece of RNA necessarily alive either but it has life like aspects. Life really is a definition human beings give to things. But there are many differences between things that are fully alive like a bacteria and a rock thats not alive at all. A virus is a bit inbetween.

I guess I was avoiding get into it for some reason (off topic?) but since I plainly baited you into it I should probly respond. :roll: Heh..

I think this is really starting to get at the core of the issue. My problem is not so much with the attempt to accurately define the term, "life". (Even if I do think it has to be, ultimately, an arbitrary distinction.) My problem is with the special, exalted, indeed divine, position that the concept ("life") enjoys in (our?) society. I won't deny that our mental division of the world, into "alive" and "not alive", serves important purposes for us. [For one, it guides us in making predictions involving "living" things, via the conceptual grouping(s) in question. For example, if you learn that all "living" things require water to (metabolically) function, then you'll know how to destroy EVERY "creature" there is. Or, more abstractly, the schism could play a role in ethical considerations, like with the whole issue of 'conception' in the abortion debate.] But to me that isn't enough to differentiate it from all the other categories we've created. [All "galaxies", all "comics", all "fruits", to name a few, can likewise be grouped according to their relevant similarities, but we don't assign any unique importance to these distinctions, like we do with "life".] I don't much feel like providing evidence for this claim, so I hope we can just agree on it. That as far as religious/ethical/philosophical/cultural/historical/moral/etc. thinking goes, the concept of "life" is very often both fundamental and paramount. It is uniquely associated with things like 'moral codes', 'qualia', 'purpose', 'feeling', 'force', and 'spirit'. But does it actually deserve this place of honor? I say, "no".

In other words, I think that "living" and "non-living" things have a lot more in common than they do different. Is anyone willing to argue otherwise? To argue that the distinction of "life" is absolute in a way unlike any other? That the distinction of "life" is of a wholly different kind? Because I can't find any reason for it to be so. Many people believe in some sort of a "life force" (elan vital??), that endows (otherwise lifeless) matter with "spirit", or "existence", but don't count me among them.
 
Hey I actually found a link to the Seed Magazine article I was thinking of above. It's about the difficulties of trying to define, "life". I haven't reread it yet but I remember it being really interesting.


Here's a quick quote from it that illustrates my point:
In the course of researching his book, Popa started collecting definitions that have appeared in the scientific literature. He eventually lost count. “I’ve found at least three hundred, maybe four hundred definitions,” he says.
I think that's good evidence that there isn't much of a condenses as to the definition.
 
Things can have characteristics or similarities to things that life does. Like a rock sitting there still changes. It can change into new forms under heat and pressure. It can weather away from environmental erosion. In this sense even non life evolves. This explains the history of our cosmos (to a point) and planet before life started to change things like the atmosphere.

In other words, I think that "living" and "non-living" things have a lot more in common than they do different. Is anyone willing to argue otherwise? To argue that the distinction of "life" is absolute in a way unlike any other? That the distinction of "life" is of a wholly different kind? Because I can't find any reason for it to be so. Many people believe in some sort of a "life force" (elan vital??), that endows (otherwise lifeless) matter with "spirit", or "existence", but don't count me among them.

The similarities and differences can vary in many ways but I agree with your central point. Life is just matter thats organized in such a way that it can do things that we consider to be alive. Thats really it. Understanding it obviously involves more detailed analysis and explanations but really life is just matter thats organized differently then non life.

Agreed and good point. :d
 
burnt said:
Agreed and good point. :d
Thank you, thank you..8) Hehe just kidding, seriously though I expected you'd concur; I'd love to hear from anyone that disagrees, because I suspect many people do. [It'd be nice if I won the lottery so I could finance actual research to back up these kinds of assumptions I make about how people view the world. I'm always amazed by the lack of hard evidence in philosophical literature. Like, for example, if I were to claim that much of human behavior is shaped by a (fallacious) belief in free will, then I should have a survey to back that up! :lol: Se la vi I guess..)


Our discussion here has really helped me flesh out and organize my thoughts. After reading your reply and reviewing what I had written, I can better see what I was trying to get at:

I think I more see "consciousness" or "feeling" or "'subjective' experience/existence" as the single most important thing in all of creation. To me it's the ONLY thing that "matters", (for whatever that means). What's it like to be a star, or a diamond, or a virus, or a plant? Maybe not much, methinks, but I KNOW it feels like something to be me. Suffering IS horrible, pleasure IS wonderful. To me understanding and respecting that is the only (ethical) imperitive which nature thrusts upon us. It goes against my instincts, but to me "expereince" DOES seem to be a wholly unique class of existence. I'd be interested to know if you disagree with me there, because (like I've mentioned in another thread) it's the one thing I have no evidence to back up whatsoever, which really makes me uncomfortable.
 
Its important to the beings that experience it.

Agree though I don't think it feels like anything to be a tree or a bacteria. I do think that other forms of life feel things though especially certain animals.

It goes against my instincts, but to me "expereince" DOES seem to be a wholly unique class of existence.

I think it is rare but not unique. The only proof of this would be to find intelligent life here on earth or on other planets. I think there are some good animal candidates that certainly seem to feel and experience.

I look at it like a continium that is all related evolutionarily. The more conscious brain power you have the more aware you are and the more your experience differs or increases or is less. We can see how damage to the brain obstructs experience. Its also possible that feeling or experiencing could happen without a brain but some other thing that allows such experience to occur maybe AI or even some other nervous system organization such as an octopus or squid.
 
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