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What makes us alive?

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What makes us alive?

Postby Maddogkull » 15 Apr 2010, 07:37

What essentially makes us alive? What makes your brain full of energy? Like how does that spark of life or consciousness make us come alive in the womb?
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Re: What makes us alive?

Postby NucleicAcid » 15 Apr 2010, 10:19

Sure, ask one of the most challenging questions in philosophy ;)

Man, that's a doozy. Especially because life and consciousness are two different things, although similar.

I personally define life as something that is capable of creating more of itself, and creating a higher level of organization, at the expense of increased entropy around it. It's this constant thermodynamic struggle upstream that seems to make life alive. Make any kind of object, and immediately nature starts trying to break it down. Deterioration begins the moment it leaves the assembly line. It will not last forever. However, a living organism will maintain homeostasis, and stay at more or less the same level of repair throughout its lifetime (excluding aging, which appears to be an evolved trait). It actively fights against entropy and disorder.

I believe consciousness, the ability to experience reality, exists any time you have a movement from less order to more order. It is an emergent property of matter, but matter also is a product of consciousness (but that gets way metaphysical). Every particle is theoretically conscious, though what it is capable of experiencing is far more limited than a human. Somehow, the brain serves as basically an entropic/quantum 'antenna' and allows for greater consciousness expression - or at least allows us (humans) to talk about being conscious.
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Re: What makes us alive?

Postby NinjaPuppy » 15 Apr 2010, 21:21

WOW! Now that's a great question. However, I have no idea as to how to even think about an answer.
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Re: What makes us alive?

Postby Craig Browning » 15 Apr 2010, 22:47

According to a rather aged Rabbi I knew some years ago, "Life" begins only after your children are grown and have their own kids... then you can actually have "a Life"... (insert rim-shot here).

I believe this is one of those "perspective" things. Technically speaking those little spermy dudes are "alive" as is the egg each of those sperm-worms want to latch onto... so if both of these things are alive we would have to move backwards in order to find where "living" is non-extant... problem is, the host of both egg & sperm are alive for if they were not the reproductive materials would slowly cease to be... they would die because their host has died... or has he?

So long as matter exists, be it mineral, animal or vegetable it is an expression of energy and thus "Life" remains. It may not be in the form most of us accept or recognize such, but even that deceased body is filled with vibrant life... the various organisms that make it what it is/was as well as those "new" enzymes and microbes now shifting into a feeding frenzy (possibly while thanking god for said bounty). Not only are these organisms alive, they are thriving and hard at work, breaking down and transmuting what was one aspect of life into something entirely new and yes, that includes the ability to procreate... at least if things were left to the course of natural law... the body would ultimately decay and leave in its place the nutrients and resources needed by plant life in order to thrive... maybe this is why the old mystics claimed that we are, have been and will always be ALL things?

So did life ever stop existing?

I think we're looking at a Chicken & Egg issue here... "Life" is a form of energy that began millions of years ago as various cells got together. They had just the right kind of energy or "chemistry" about themselves that a mild electrical jolt such as a nearby lightning strike, could kindle a more advance phenomena... a thing! A living and thriving multi-cell entity... that's where it started.

Awareness/Consciousness? This is the real issue given that "Life" is explainable by way of chemistry, bio-electric phenomena, etc. But we must question if or not that first multi-celled creature knew it was alive, what it was and could it digest (process) "thought"?

Sadly, we have multi-celled organism amongst us in the here and now that seem incapable of this "higher function"... we tend to call them Politicians... but that's another story altogether :twisted:
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Re: What makes us alive?

Postby NinjaPuppy » 16 Apr 2010, 00:29

Craig's post makes me think about how once a human body dies, other life forms (maggots/bacteria/fungi) benefit from what we consider 'dead' stuff. So even once a human is dead, there is still plenty of 'life' taking place in that dead shell. Anyway, it's just a thought.
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