If life is a positive and death is a negative…........

 
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31 March 2008 15:03
 
AtheEisegete - 31 March 2008 02:42 PM
meloncolin - 31 March 2008 07:02 AM

And if dying was -1 wouldn’t you have to pass through 0 first? Which means you’d have to die before you can start dying.

Come on, lad, use your brain cells. Living and dying are processes, and +1 and -1 are increment and decrement, respectively. If your present state is the zero of not yet having been born, add 1 at birth to come alive, then subtract 1 at death to become dead, which is to say back to zero.

More fancily, follow a trajectory, possibly parabolic, initiated by an upward thrust engendered by the impulsive life force injected by G-d into your fetal cells and then subjected continuously thereafter to a gravitational death force.

AtheEisegete, I’m sure this makes perfect sense to you, but it makes no sense to me.  It sounds like just a bunch a fancy words tossed around in an attempt to take something simple and turn it into something complex. I had to laugh when I read this, (and a few of your other posts) I mean who talks like this?  Isn’t the aim of communication to at least to make an effort to be understood?  It’s just my observation anyway.

Meloncolin, thanks for your post.  I certainly do not trust my own intelligence where math is concerned, but I see I can trust or at least understand yours.

 
 
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31 March 2008 17:08
 

I think AtheEisegete is mocking the whole idea of assigning numbers to things like life and death as if it quantifies anything in any remotely scientific or even objective manner.

Just a guess. If I’m right I have to agree with the sentiment. This is about like trying to assign numberical values to things like happiness and fear and joy and such. It’s not particularly useful, though I ceratinly don’t disparage anyone the indulgence of playing the game (had a go at it myself, after all).

Byron

 
 
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31 March 2008 19:56
 

Ok Skeptic, thanks.

I do however believe that life and death are more tangible than happiness, fear and joy.

 
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31 March 2008 20:31
 
meloncolin - 31 March 2008 07:02 AM

but death (the state of being dead) is neither pleasant or unpleasant

Thats operating on the assumption that death is pleasant/unpleasant. Something we don’t know for sure.

How do you get from “death (the state of being dead) is neither pleasant or unpleasant” to “That’s operating on the assumption that death is pleasant/unpleasant?”  I don’t follow your logic there. 

In fact, we do know for sure that death cannot be pleasant or unpleasant or anything at all.  It’s zero.  Whatever else follows, that starting point is known (without resorting to faith, of course).  Would you agree?

 
 
 
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meloncolin
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02 April 2008 08:52
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 01 April 2008 12:31 AM

How do you get from “death (the state of being dead) is neither pleasant or unpleasant” to “That’s operating on the assumption that death is pleasant/unpleasant?”  I don’t follow your logic there.

 

I don’t recall saying death was pleasant or unpleasant, I said we don’t know if it’s unpleasant or pleasant.

In fact, we do know for sure that death cannot be pleasant or unpleasant or anything at all.  It’s zero.  Whatever else follows, that starting point is known (without resorting to faith, of course).  Would you agree?

No.

Thats the thing about death, we can’t be sure what happens until we actually experience it and by then, it’s too late to write a paper on it.

[ Edited: 02 April 2008 09:07 by meloncolin]
 
 
 
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02 April 2008 10:10
 
Under New Management - 31 March 2008 11:56 PM

Ok Skeptic, thanks.

I do however believe that life and death are more tangible than happiness, fear and joy.

Perhaps.

Tangible and quantifiable are very different things though.

Byron

 
 
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02 April 2008 20:00
 
meloncolin - 02 April 2008 12:52 PM

Thats the thing about death, we can’t be sure what happens until we actually experience it and by then, it’s too late to write a paper on it.

“What happens” is that your brain stops functioning (to the extent that it is functioning at all).  That we can be sure of.  Please explain to me how something can be pleasant or unpleasant if it cannot be experienced?  Your argument, that we “don’t know if [death] is pleasant or unpleasant…until we actually experience it” is ridiculous.  You can’t “experience” death.  There’s nothing to experience!

Believing that death (the state of being dead) might be pleasant or unpleasant is no different than believing in God.  You’re substituting faith in one preposterous fantasy for another.  Or have I mistaken you for an atheist?

 
 
 
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05 April 2008 00:33
 

Death can not exist in and of itself i.e. there can be no death without life. So I would say the state diagram would be      
 
    Non-life—->/Birth/—->Life—->/Death/—->Non-life
                     
In which case Birth and Death are just names assigned to transitions, so this reduces to

          Non-life—->Life—->Non-life

Which can be stated as

                0—->1—->0

Which can be logically be reduced to

                  0 or 1

As to which is positive or negative, whose to say that life isn’t the imperfect state and non-life perfection, beautiful oblivion.

                  _   _
                  0 or 1

 
 
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05 April 2008 10:37
 
GAD - 05 April 2008 04:33 AM

Death can not exist in and of itself i.e. there can be no death without life. So I would say the state diagram would be      
 
    Non-life—->/Birth/—->Life—->/Death/—->Non-life
                     
In which case Birth and Death are just names assigned to transitions, so this reduces to

          Non-life—->Life—->Non-life

Which can be stated as

                0—->1—->0

Which can be logically be reduced to

                  0 or 1

As to which is positive or negative, whose to say that life isn’t the imperfect state and non-life perfection, beautiful oblivion.

                  _   _
                  0 or 1

Yes.  Beautiful.  Checkmate.

 
 
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05 April 2008 12:07
 
Jefe - 05 April 2008 03:11 PM

non-life=i
life=x

non-life is a state which we can only loosely comprehend.
life is full of variable states and decision making points so it would be fruitless to assign an unchanging integer to the state given the potential difference.

therefore we produce:

i > x > i

I think I understand your intent but I have to disagree. If there is an agreed [Human] definition of life then you either meet it or you don’t, logically 0 or 1. Ifthe definition of life is determined by a set of variables, then logically the variables must sum to 0 or 1 to meet the definition.

 
 
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05 April 2008 19:22
 

GAD, you’re right.  I wasn’t thinking of death as a transition state, I was thinking of it as the state of being dead.  But that implies the state of being alive as a prerequisite, which further implies a difference between the state of being dead and the state of not yet being born.  Which is nonsense.  Those two states are identical and more accurately referred to as the the state of non-life, as you say.  Being dead is identical to never having being born.

However, I would say there is a difference between life (the state of being alive) and living.  Terry Shiavo, for example, was in the state of being alive, but she wasn’t living.  Living has value; the state of being alive does not.  So while the state of being alive may be the opposite of the state of non-life, it has the same value:  zero.

 
 
 
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06 April 2008 08:52
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 05 April 2008 11:22 PM

So while the state of being alive may be the opposite of the state of non-life, it has the same value:  zero.

This is so draconian, even I cannot underwrite it. Is a bacterium alive? Is a virus alive? It’s not the opposite of anything, but rather a particular configuration of a set of atoms and molecules. Take the same system of atoms decomposing as a corpse and all you have is dehydrating organic goo. Life is a configuration of a set of atoms that is rather less likely to occur than most possible arrangements of the same set of atoms. It’s not as ordered as a crystal, however, a very low-entropy state. It’s complex, but not magical.

One way of looking at it is to consider life as a system of auto-catalyzing and cross-catalyzing biochemical reactions taking place inside a membrane open to the passage of matter and energy and capable of self-replication and response to changes in its environment such that it is subject to evolution by natural selection. There, doesn’t that pare away some of the magical thinking associated with this discussion?

Some of you seem to be talking about consciousness here, a subject that pops up around this forum from time to time because it is incompletely understood scientifically.  That incompleteness licenses a person to say about “consciousness” just about anything he or she wants, doesn’t it? Without actually saying anything really interesting at all.

[ Edited: 06 April 2008 08:54 by Traces Elk]
 
 
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06 April 2008 11:23
 

One way of looking at it is to consider life as a system of auto-catalyzing and cross-catalyzing biochemical reactions taking place inside a membrane open to the passage of matter and energy and capable of self-replication and response to changes in its environment such that it is subject to evolution by natural selection. There, doesn’t that pare away some of the magical thinking associated with this discussion?

Wow, that was good.  It’s obvious you are exceedingly intelligent but you also are very talented at explaining things.  I appreciate that.

Without actually saying anything really interesting at all.

Funny.

 
 
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06 April 2008 12:57
 
Salt Creek - 06 April 2008 12:52 PM

This is so draconian, even I cannot underwrite it. Is a bacterium alive? Is a virus alive? It’s not the opposite of anything, but rather a particular configuration of a set of atoms and molecules. Take the same system of atoms decomposing as a corpse and all you have is dehydrating organic goo. Life is a configuration of a set of atoms that is rather less likely to occur than most possible arrangements of the same set of atoms. It’s not as ordered as a crystal, however, a very low-entropy state. It’s complex, but not magical.

Semantics. We have names for those “configurations of atoms”, Stars, Gases, Plants, People, Life......You can take the materialist view and and say there is no such thing as life/living just different “configurations of atoms” or you could take the pantheist view and say there is no such thing as non-life/non-living just different “configurations of atoms”. Either way you go without some axiomatic system of definitions that further define the features, your done, there’s nothing to discuss, game over. Nothing magical here. 

One way of looking at it is to consider life as a system of auto-catalyzing and cross-catalyzing biochemical reactions taking place inside a membrane open to the passage of matter and energy and capable of self-replication and response to changes in its environment such that it is subject to evolution by natural selection. There, doesn’t that pare away some of the magical thinking associated with this discussion?

Semantics, off topic. The topic, at least in my view is the definition of the “configurations of atoms” that we call life Vs non-life. Again no magical thinking here, at least on my part.

Some of you seem to be talking about consciousness here, a subject that pops up around this forum from time to time because it is incompletely understood scientifically.  That incompleteness licenses a person to say about “consciousness” just about anything he or she wants, doesn’t it? Without actually saying anything really interesting at all.

Yes, some people do say a lot of things without actually saying anything really interesting at all. Also, some people are inclined to magical thinking, and some people are inclined to thinking everyone else’s thinking is magical except their own. Both types are equally annoying….....

 
 
 
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06 April 2008 13:22
 
GAD - 06 April 2008 04:57 PM

One way of looking at it is to consider life as a system of auto-catalyzing and cross-catalyzing biochemical reactions taking place inside a membrane open to the passage of matter and energy and capable of self-replication and response to changes in its environment such that it is subject to evolution by natural selection. There, doesn’t that pare away some of the magical thinking associated with this discussion?

Semantics, off topic. The topic, at least in my view is the definition of the “configurations of atoms” that we call life Vs non-life. Again no magical thinking here, at least on my part.

Not semantics, actually. I offered you in all seriousness a set of criteria to use for talking about life. Did I leave something out, or are you just acting out the role of some amateur philosopher trying to distill the essence of existence for the nth time?

GAD - 06 April 2008 04:57 PM

You can take the materialist view and and say there is no such thing as life/living just different “configurations of atoms” or you could take the pantheist view and say there is no such thing as non-life/non-living just different “configurations of atoms”.

I offered neither of these as bases for discussion. I offered some criteria by which we can consider collections of atoms to be “living”. Do you want to understand how “death” occurs? In a single-cell organism it is because that system of reactions stops. In a multi-cellular organism, you can see that cell division has stopped.

Want to know how that happens? Study biochemistry. Information is being transmitted around inside of cells in order for protein synthesis to take place. Cell division involves copying the templates for that information. Copying is not perfect. Why isn’t copying perfect? This is the real world, full of thermal noise.

[ Edited: 06 April 2008 13:51 by Traces Elk]