what is alive?
arthurc at crl.com
Wed Sep 18 13:38:17 EST 1996
Steve McGrew (stevem at comtch.iea.com) wrote:
: I think a lot of the problem people have with the concept of "what is
: alive" may come from the idea that there is a "spirit" that enters leaves the
: body upon birth and leaves upon death: an on/off kind of quantity called
: "life". In the context of current medical, biological, biochemical and
: cybernetic knowledge, that idea is nonsense. If "life" is to be something
: science deals with, it must be measurable, quantifiable-- and probably not a
: binary quantity.
Death does have a binary feel to it. Say a person is walking down the
street -- mind full of ideas, the muscles all working together, eyes
taking in the environment... and then, a bullet through the brain.
Instant death. It doesn't do much good to urge, "Well, the e coli are
still churing away, the hair is still growing, etc." The whole person is
dead -- irreversably dead. All those coordinated efforts have been shut
down, never to be restarted.
Looks awfully binary to me.
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