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qcrisp
03-17-2014, 10:04 AM
Ferris Jabr on why nothing is truly alive:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/opinion/why-nothing-is-truly-alive.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=3

Edward Feser's response:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/stop-it-youre-killing-me.html

bendk
03-17-2014, 06:10 PM
That was interesting. I prefer Ferris Jabr's argument because it is more entertaining. I know I have seen those creatures somewhere before, but I don't recall ever coming across the word Strandbeest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=KajjY8y3j8o (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=KajjY8y3j8o)

This is topical because of the Lego movie. A Strandbeest movin' to the groovin'.

ramonoski
03-17-2014, 09:01 PM
That is fascinating material.

The lego robot bendk posted is a good example. It moves. Is it alive? Or does living must inherently imply an organic constitution, or perhaps even some semblance of sentience? Or maybe the problem with the definition (or the lack of a precise one) is that most people wouldn't want "life" to be knocked down several notches on the unwritten things-that-are-special-or-makes-us-feel-special category. You know, "if life is not that big a deal, then where does that leave us" and the like :drunk:

qcrisp
03-17-2014, 09:26 PM
It's interesting that neither of them go down the 'everything is alive' route. Jabr mentions it in one sentence and doesn't return to it. Feser mentions that it's a conclusion that could just as easily be drawn from the same premises - but mentions this as a step towards refuting the claim.

I remember when I first read 'The Fall of the House of Usher' that feeling I got, very familiar to me in childhood, of the reality of something that wasn't common sense, and somehow, for reasons that are never quite explained, was also completely unacceptable to common sense - in this case, the idea that a house could be alive.

But basically, when Jabr says that 'life' is just a concept, this is just a paraphrase of him saying that there are no universally accepted definitions of what life is. In other words, 'death', by the same rules, must also be a concept. Therefore, we are left with something in which there is neither life nor death. (Which we have to refer to with other concepts such as 'existence', 'non-existence', etc., which might, in their turn, break down.)

That is, if we accept that there aren't any valid distinctions.

In any case, I can see some value in the views of both the articles linked to.