This thread has really gone on and although some my consider this type
of discussion sophmoric, I think that science (and not just philosophy)
should tackle some of the hard questions.
Johnjoe McFadden makes some interesting comments and I'd like to throw a
few metaphorical cats (not Schrodingers) among these pigeons.
Johnjoe talks about imposition of will and the implication almost has to
be that this 'will' is separate and independent - a rock (read
earthquake) can certainly impose its will on you. Again this is
anthrocentric. Further, the rock is more capable of 'resisting change
within its own body' than most RNA viruses (high mutation rates).
The more I look at this discussion and similar I have had over the
years, the more I think that the life is in the interactions, rather
than intrinsic to the creature. I also am not positing a soul.
I would then return to my original question re the BSE agent (and prions
etc generally) and suggest that the PrP 'system' is alive by the
definition of interacting information. It is also alive in that it is
part of a larger organism and its internal systems - or if not, at what
point in the reduction process does it lose 'life'?
"Bigger bugs have little bugs, upon their backs to bite 'em..
and little bugs have lesser bugs, and so ad infinitum."