What is life ?

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06 Feb 2020 16:20 #349545 by Fyxe
Replied by Fyxe on topic What is life ?

Adder wrote:

Alexandre Orion wrote:
Adder, there is no "part" of the plant that cares, the plant in its wholeness does,


That question was in regards to being aware. The whole plant would not be aware its leaves are turning and indeed the leaves wouldn't be aware!? Because it might react to its own actions? Then what is the nature of that reaction.... by what mechanism are it's parts or whole aware! It depends on what is being meant by aware, hence the question. We can call it a plant and say its acting aware and I'm aware of that, saying otherwise seems to be deliberately sloppy semantics? And I'm not sure about caring either... but anthromorophising similar actions is a beneficial exercise to broaden one's perception and perspective on existence! Instinct are conscious like models deriving in the subconscious seemingly but if we're talking about life with consciousness then that is different from plants... unless their is a view or belief otherwise, hence the question. :dry:


Actually yes the entire plant is aware, from its roots to its leaves. The roots will seek out water, the leaves will seek out sunlight and the body shall process the raw elements to make food. When it gets cold out the plant will drop its leaves and go dormant until spring. sometimes the entire plant will dissapear except for the roots - only to have it reemerge in the spring. this is not a reaction to anything, it is a response. the sun comes up in the east, the plant senses this and turns its leaves in that direction. these are physical responses to changes in a physical environment. And no brain is needed if thats what you are implying. its a different form of life than animal life but no less alive. you will never see a rock respond the its environment like this. as well the levels of consciousness very. As humans we are self aware, that does not mean live requires self awareness to be alive. You have to far limited the scope of the definition if you believe that.

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06 Feb 2020 17:25 #349548 by Gisteron
Replied by Gisteron on topic What is life ?
The plant is alive by biological definitions because it fulfills all of the necessary conditions set out in those definitions to qualify as such. Being "aware" of the water it sucks out of the ground is not one of those criteria. And if we say the plant has awareness for "seeking out" the water in the soil, do we also say of water that it is awareness because it "seeks out" lower pressure regions to flow towards?

What's the difference between a "reaction" and a "response" exactly? Do flames have awareness because they "seek out" oxygen to burn? Do rocks have awareness because they "seek out" the ground when left to their own devices? If yes, then how is it meaningful to speak of awareness, when we have no examples of something that has none? If no, where would we draw the line, and why?

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06 Feb 2020 18:01 #349549 by Fyxe
Replied by Fyxe on topic What is life ?

Gisteron wrote: The plant is alive by biological definitions because it fulfills all of the necessary conditions set out in those definitions to qualify as such. Being "aware" of the water it sucks out of the ground is not one of those criteria. And if we say the plant has awareness for "seeking out" the water in the soil, do we also say of water that it is awareness because it "seeks out" lower pressure regions to flow towards?

What's the difference between a "reaction" and a "response" exactly? Do flames have awareness because they "seek out" oxygen to burn? Do rocks have awareness because they "seek out" the ground when left to their own devices? If yes, then how is it meaningful to speak of awareness, when we have no examples of something that has none? If no, where would we draw the line, and why?



Yea thats fine, Everyone has different defintions of life and what it requires. I have mine and that is simple awareness. I think that best suits the entire expanse of life no matter what form it takes. Water and fire and a rock are not aware of their enviornment. instead they are subject simply to the laws of physics and that is all they are following. they have no ability to affect their environment or interact with it or increase in complexity outside of those forces. A plant does have this ability.

A reaction is based in the moment and does not consider the future because it is visceral and survival oriented. a response is is slower and more measured and is based on collected information about the environment. The plant does not react to its environment as it has no self preservation capability but it does respond to information in its enviornment such as the sun coming up or it getting cold outside.

And we have a plethora of examples of things that have no awareness! that is how we can identify awareness, because we can compare it to un-awareness!

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06 Feb 2020 18:53 #349551 by Erinis
Replied by Erinis on topic What is life ?
I would like to ask, because I am bit confused. If the plant hadnĀ“t no self-preservation instinct
how would be possible to grow again if you cut off some of its parts.
What cause its recovery in this case?

- Phoenix die and transform into something new -

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06 Feb 2020 19:00 #349552 by Fyxe
Replied by Fyxe on topic What is life ?
The ability to self organize and increase in complexity does this as a function of its awareness that part of it was cut off. A rock that has a chunk chipped off will never do this because its not aware anything happened to it.

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06 Feb 2020 19:28 - 06 Feb 2020 19:42 #349553 by Gisteron
Replied by Gisteron on topic What is life ?

Fyxe wrote: Water and fire and a rock are not aware of their enviornment. instead they are subject simply to the laws of physics and that is all they are following. they have no ability to affect their environment or interact with it...

Maybe I'm a bit sensitive to subtle differences, but I find that an environment is different before it is hit by a fire than afterwards. I find that fire does have ability to interact with and affect its environment. Depending on what that environment is, it can even make it uninhabitable for itself, by, say, burning all the fuel available to it like a candle underneath a glass does. A rock that drops into mud even leaves an imprint of its shape in it. One might say it transmits information into a part of the environment that is able to store it for some time. But I can appreciate that there may be tighter definitions of environment-affecting, under which scorching an environment, or storing information in it do not count.


The plant does not react to its environment as it has no self preservation capability...

Homeostasis maintenance is very frequently a necessary condition to qualify as alive. It is also something plants do. It is a rudimentary form of self-preservation, nevertheless it is one.
Part of it for plants, for instance, is gas and water levels maintenance through stomata control. Plants open their stomata to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the surrounding air. They also evaporate water that way, so more can come up from the soil, fueling the plant's adenosine triphosphate production. That water also brings up nutrients from the soil that the plant needs to grow and especially to grow seeds. So growth and reproduction - two further criteria for life - are maintained this way. If the plant had no capability to control its stomata, it would either suffocate, or dry out, well before it would cease growing and reproducing. This gets particularly extreme with plants that live in very wet environments, like water lilies, and plants that live in very dry ones, like desert cacti, where stoma opening and closing can have so dramatic effects that controling it becomes a genuinely fine balancing act.
Again, maybe you mean something else by self preservation capability. When I hear that expression, I'm thinking of the capability to preserve one's own life. Stoma control to me qualifies as one manifestation of that capability.


... but it does respond to information in its enviornment such as the sun coming up or it getting cold outside.

Well, it responds pretty much the same if you do it with an artificial light of a vaguely similar spectral composition, and if it gets cold wherever the plant itself is, that's what it responds to. It cannot distinguish between a natural global season change and an artificial local environmental change. It responds to external stimuli, but that alone I find insufficient to argue that it processes information. An astronaut can synchronize their clock before launch and know whether it is night or day in their home land by consulting that clock later. They can maintain a sleeping schedule in accord with their home land's time of day eventhough to them the sun can rise and set well over ten times as frequently as it does to the people on the surface. A plant has no such luxuries. It responds only to what is most immediately affecting it at the time. It has no memory (i.e. information storage), and no foresight (i.e. information extrapolation). I for one have difficulty telling the difference between its "responses" vs the fire's "reactions" to fuel availability.


And we have a plethora of examples of things that have no awareness! that is how we can identify awareness, because we can compare it to un-awareness!

Maybe. I just don't understand what the criterion is by which we draw that line. If we say plants have awareness, what room remains there to say that rocks do not? Picture that we were shown some new kind of object that was completely alien to us, one we knew nothing whatsoever about in advance, but could only examine with our instruments and senses, and we were given two boxes, one labeled "aware things" and one labeled "unaware things". How would we go about deciding which box the strange object ought go? Which tests would we perform on it that could tell us whether it was aware or not? And for the objects that are already in the boxes, would they remain where they are if we were to subsequently perform those same tests on them? Who knows...

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Last edit: 06 Feb 2020 19:42 by Gisteron.
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06 Feb 2020 20:28 - 06 Feb 2020 20:30 #349556 by Fyxe
Replied by Fyxe on topic What is life ?

Maybe I'm a bit sensitive to subtle differences

to subtle for yourself but not subtle enough when it comes to others. later on in this very post you actually ingored the subtly of one of my statements and ended up putting words in my mouth again. I dont want this to devolve into wars and stuff so Ill piont that out now.




I find that fire does have ability to interact with and affect its environment

.
Of course it does, but that still does not make it aware of what its doing. it will burn until one of the 3 thingys needed for its existence is gone and it still wont care or take any steps to preserve that thing.




Stoma control to me qualifies as one manifestation of that capability [self preservation].

hmm good thought. I agree, maybe plants do have a self preservation quality in their awareness and can react to their environment as well as respond.





Well, it responds pretty much the same if you do it with an artificial light of a vaguely similar spectral composition, and if it gets cold wherever the plant itself is, that's what it responds to

Of course i agree. but why does a plant have to tell the difference between a light and the sun? If the light is capable of giving it what it needs then it will respond to that as well. I see no need to distinguish between artifical and natural enviornment here.





but that alone I find insufficient to argue that it processes information.

Heres were we got a problem and where you just put words into my mouth. I never said anything about processing information. I exatly said responding to environment. there is a difference.






So growth and reproduction - two further criteria for life

Nope. Now who is the one not reading? See my donkey link above. An animal that is alive but does not reproduce.





Maybe. I just don't understand what the criterion is by which we draw that line. If we say plants have awareness, what room remains there to say that rocks do not?

Because rocks can be distinguished from things that respond (and react) to their environment. A rock will not respond or react to its environment. Your example of a rock dropping into a mud puddle... how did it get dropped? If you show me one rock that has ever jumped into a mud puddle by itself please share that with the class.

A true teacher would never tell you what to do. But he would give you the knowledge with which you could decide what would be best for you to do
Last edit: 06 Feb 2020 20:30 by Fyxe.

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06 Feb 2020 21:09 #349557 by Gisteron
Replied by Gisteron on topic What is life ?

Fyxe wrote:

I find that fire does have ability to interact with and affect its environment

.
Of course it does, but that still does not make it aware of what its doing. it will burn until one of the 3 thingys needed for its existence is gone and it still wont care or take any steps to preserve that thing.

Fair enough. I was just addressing your saying that water and fire and a rock have no ability to affect their environment. Maybe I misread.


Well, it responds pretty much the same if you do it with an artificial light of a vaguely similar spectral composition, and if it gets cold wherever the plant itself is, that's what it responds to

Of course i agree. but why does a plant have to tell the difference between a light and the sun? If the light is capable of giving it what it needs then it will respond to that as well. I see no need to distinguish between artifical and natural enviornment here.

but that alone I find insufficient to argue that it processes information.

Heres were we got a problem and where you just put words into my mouth. I never said anything about processing information. I exatly said responding to environment. there is a difference.

The distinction I'm trying to quantify is not so much between the natural and the artificial environment, as it is between things that "respond to information in" (as you put it) their environment and those that just "react" to it. Maybe this is controversial, but I would think that something we call information is something that can be extracted from a signal/stimulus, stored, and transmitted. If all the plant does is blindly do something "in response" to it, without any actual processing, how is that different from a rock "reacting" to the pull of gravity after being pushed off which ever support? We might say that there is information to be gathered from the environment, about the position of the sun or the temperature, but I hesitate to speak of something as a response to it, if we cannot clearly say that any actual gathering or processing is happening.


Maybe. I just don't understand what the criterion is by which we draw that line. If we say plants have awareness, what room remains there to say that rocks do not?

Because rocks can be distinguished from things that respond (and react) to their environment. A rock will not respond or react to its environment. Your example of a rock dropping into a mud puddle... how did it get dropped? If you show me one rock that has ever jumped into a mud puddle by itself please share that with the class.[/quote]Well how did the plant's seed get buried? Not all things can do everything on their own. My example was of something that we would classify as un-living and un-aware still interacting with its environment, even storing information with it. It is an example of something that would call into question whether interactivity or information dealings are a reasonable criterion by which to tell unaware things from aware ones, because if we were to judge the rock by it we may well find it classified as aware. Sure, rocks don't jump into puddles on their own, but doing things on their own (which is also rather limited for plants, let's face it) was not a criterion until now anyway. Until now, it was about reacting to the environment based solely on physical stimuli vs responding to information in the environment based on... well, obtaining it, then making some kind of assessment (i.e. processing, and yes, that is necessary, otherwise the whole performance is indistinguishable from an unaware thing's reaction) that results in which ever response, particularly responses that impact said environment. The rock's shape is not information it gathered from its environment, I can grant that much. Nevertheless, the performance the rock was moved to by which ever force - which aware things of course are also subjects to - was in the end performed by that rock, and it affected the rock's environment in a way that can even technically be classified as information transmission to it.

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06 Feb 2020 22:09 #349561 by Fyxe
Replied by Fyxe on topic What is life ?

things that "respond to information in" (as you put it) their environment and those that just "react" to it


lol but thats NOT how I put it! Once again you have added something that I did NOT say. I never said anything about "information" or processing that information. I said precisely "responding to their environment". nowhere is the word information in that sentence.\




do something "in response" to it, without any actual processing, how is that different from a rock "reacting" to the pull of gravity after being pushed off which ever support?


Because a rock does not "react" to that push! They simply fall in a very deterministic fashion. Now if you push a flying squirrel of that same support, guess what that squirrel will do? It will "react" to that push and glide, actually defying the otherwise deterministic power that would make it just fall.



Well how did the plant's seed get buried? Not all things can do everything on their own.

you are exactly right but who cares how it got burried? a bird might have put it there or the wind and rain. A plant cant walk and neither can a seed to it stays there just like the rock you pushed off its support. The difference is that a Rock, when put into that environment will never respond to the sun and the dirt and the water like a seed will. A rock will just sit there and erode by the natural forces of friction. However a seed, if viable, will sprout and begin to grow and to seek out that water and that sun and that nutrients in the dirt. It will gain complexity and greater order in this process. A rock will only move further towards entropy and never have the ability to change that.

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06 Feb 2020 22:39 #349563 by Gisteron
Replied by Gisteron on topic What is life ?

Fyxe wrote:

things that "respond to information in" (as you put it) their environment and those that just "react" to it


lol but thats NOT how I put it! Once again you have added something that I did NOT say. I never said anything about "information" or processing that information. I said precisely "responding to their environment". nowhere is the word information in that sentence.

*sigh* No, that's what you said responding to me. I was initially replying to your post #349549 where you said

Fyxe wrote: The plant does not react to its environment as it has no self preservation capability but it does respond to information in its enviornment such as the sun coming up or it getting cold outside. (emphasis added)

So yea. That plants "respond to information in" their environment is how you put it. If that is not how you meant it, fair enough. I can only respond to what you say, not to what you mean, and so I did. If that is foul play to you, that's fine, too.


do something "in response" to it, without any actual processing, how is that different from a rock "reacting" to the pull of gravity after being pushed off which ever support?

Because a rock does not "react" to that push! They simply fall in a very deterministic fashion. Now if you push a flying squirrel of that same support, guess what that squirrel will do? It will "react" to that push and glide, actually defying the otherwise deterministic power that would make it just fall.

I called it "reacting" in an attempt to use the same terminology as you did. "Reacting" is what non-aware things do, because physics forces them, and "responding" is what aware things do. If you want to change the terminology now, that's fair enough. I see no need to it, and no point but confusion, but if that's what you need to do, be my guest. Until now I was consistent with the way you were phrasing it before.


Well how did the plant's seed get buried? Not all things can do everything on their own.

you are exactly right but who cares how it got burried? a bird might have put it there or the wind and rain. A plant cant walk and neither can a seed to it stays there just like the rock you pushed off its support.

Exactly. Nobody cares how it got to fall towards the puddle. You asked, challenging me to point at a rock that would do that on its own, but this has nothing to do with awareness.


The difference is that a Rock, when put into that environment will never respond to the sun and the dirt and the water like a seed will. A rock will just sit there and erode by the natural forces of friction. However a seed, if viable, will sprout and begin to grow and to seek out that water and that sun and that nutrients in the dirt. It will gain complexity and greater order in this process. A rock will only move further towards entropy and never have the ability to change that.

The differences you are describing boil down to the plant being a living organism where chemical processes happen, while the rock is not. I'm not arguing that the plant isn't alive or that the rock is. The only thing I'm challenging is that the plant has any more "awareness". Nothing that is happening to or in the plant is any less of a natural force than the friction eroding the rock. Both of them, at the end of the day, are subject to the same physical forces. The difference you point to is that the plant is more sensitive to more subtle nuances, where the rock is rather... inert. That's a difference in scope, though, not in principle. Again, the question remains, where to draw the line. How much "sensitivity" counts as awareness, and how much does not? Fair enough, let's say the rock does not have enough, but the plant does. But why? Where do you draw the line and why there and not someplace else? If you were presented a thing you couldn't identify as a rock or a plant, how would you go about finding out which side of that line it was on? If it's a matter of complexity, how much complexity is enough? How much is not? And how would one go about measuring the amount of complexity any one thing possesses anyway?

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