Re: [psychiatry-research] Essay Note: "Here are my thoughts on Life"
- ----- Original Message -----From: Roger LassSent: Thursday, March 07, 2013 6:29 PMSubject: RE: [psychiatry-research] Essay Note: "Here are my thoughts on Life"
OK, Im misreading you to some extent. I thought it was YOU who were being the mystic/Platonist. But I still dont see what life is outside of organised behaviour. It may be useful to give it a name, but its not a thing in the world but an epiphenomenon of genuinely describable processes. I dont see that your person on life support is to the point. If you choose to define life medically in terms of brain activity, then the Person (the sum of all localised activities including the brain) is not alive. Fine, youre choosing to take a state (beating heart and no cortex for example) and saying that the adjective alive doesnt apply. Your choice, within the conventions of medical discourse. But if theres still oxygen uptake and metabolism going on, then the par ts working are surely alive. But the fact that theres an adjective alive that you would choose to apply or not does not mean theres such a thing as life. Just because theres an adjective red doesnt mean that redness exists independently of the way people represent their qualia in language.
You are assuming that one must say what life is in order to assign that property to an object (say a human). I am making no such assumption. I am not assuming or implying that life is or is not a particular thing. I am saying that the components of a living organism produce life. that life is somehow monitored by the system. That the result of that monitoring regulates the systems that produced the life in the first place.
Hence we breathe to live, we eat to live, we keep warm to live and so on. By analogy, thousands of parts in a motor car are required to produce 'speed'. The speed is then monitored (by the speedometer) and then the systems that produced the speed are regulated according to the speed. We have not had to consider what 'speed' is. Indeed, you need to know special relativity math as a minimum to understanding what speed IS. And yes, I have been told, in relativity forums, that speed is an illusion as one is always stationary within one's own inertial frame, one of Einstein's two foundational postulates.
Even at the highest processing level we feel the results of the monitoring of life and the feelings or drives we need to satisfy to maintain it. Life may be, as you say, nothing more than the underlying processes. but as long as the system responds to the property of life and actively maintains some degree or properties of life then life must be modelled at all levels whether we know what it is or not and whether it is a substance of some kind or not.
You might like to contemplate this next time you set your thermostat ~ there is no such thing as temperature at the atomic scale. It only appears in complex systems, not in the system's components even though it is those components that contribute to temperature. Yet you set your thermostat and that ultimately effects those atoms that make up the temperature...
I am not the least bit interested in furthering this adversial thread but I do have a question that I don't think will engender controversy. Can you indicate what the underlying property or properties that Indo- European languages have that make it easier to form abstract nouns? If I am not presuming too much, can you give an example of a language where this is not the case and highlight the relevant underlying differences with Indo-European languages?
On 08/03/2013 9:19 AM, Roger Lass wrote:
If one can show that, yes. I think I have nothing more to contribute to this particular discussion. Or at least I don’t seem to have been able to make my point clear, and I don’t want to get into a long polemic (which we’re approaching). We seem to be facing each other across a semipermeable wall. If I can figure out a clearer way to say what I mean that I feel has a better chance of convincing you I’ll open it up again. For now, judging from the responses, this is becoming rather gladiatorial, and the list shouldn’t be made to watch our performance. So let’s agree for now that neither of us can fully convince the other.
----- Original Message -----
From: Roger Lass
Sent: Friday, March 08, 2013 12:43 AM
Subject: RE: [psychiatry-research] Essay Note: "Here are my thoughts on Life"
You argue well. The points you make here are good ones. But just because you CAN name a category by abstraction from a group of others doesn’t necessarily give it an ontological status. The fact that something can be conceptualised and turned into an abstract noun (something that Indo-European languages do particularly easily, but not all languages do with the same promiscuity as far as I know) doesn’t mean that it necessarily has a referent when it’s used. Just because there’s a word ‘unicorn’ and you can even describe them, doesn’t mean there are unicorns. Except in a special world in which we adopt what Coleridge called ‘willing suspension of disbelief’, which is a necessary world for civilised people. That’s just the general existence point; I wouldn’t accuse you of this kind of name-mysticism. But I’m still not convinced. Maybe neither of us can convince the other, which is not impossible.
The counter argument to "just because you can name a category.." is the argument that "just because you can point out that category is really only a particular cluster of underlying properties...". In school, we were told that the solid table is an illusion. What we called 'table' was just a collection of vibrating atoms etc etc.
In other words, just because we can identify the underlying properties from which a cluster is formed and named doesn't mean that it is *any less* real than any other such cluster of properties. And when we carefully examine the things in the world that we have already named and treated as real we find that they are All clusters of properties, just like life is, but less obviously so.
Let us say that if some part of nature treats a collection of properties as a thing in itself then it is safe for us to also do so, and life is certainly one of those properties so treated...
Robert Karl Stonjek