Are Viruses Alive?

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Are viruses alive?


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How does a virus behave outside of a host?
 

Les Sleeth

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Imparcticle said:
How does a virus behave outside of a host?
Here's a link with a good overview:

http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virus_(biology) [Broken]
 
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LW Sleeth said:
The thing is, the aspect of "aliveness" doesn't show up until a virus enters a host everyone agrees is "alive." Isn't that suspicious?
It is. But how does it 'connect' to the host when it isn't alive is even more suspicious.

So, what most defines "aliveness"? Is it the machinery of a biological form or is it the dynamism? Even the simple, organelle-less prokayote exhibits dynamism. In fact, when we observe a "dead" thing, we see all the machinery is present, but it has lost its dynamic-ness. Even if we agree that it's the machinery alone which produces that dynamism, it's loss nonetheless makes the thing dead (and a living being's dynamism can endure through the failure or loss of a great many machine parts too).
Good point. But prokaryotes lack a nucleus. The organelles of eukaryotes allow them to exhibit much higher levels of intracellular division of labor than is possible in prokaryotic cells, so division of prokaryotes aren't quite sufficient to substitute in for a virus, … I think.

That's why I can't see what to make of the lack of dynamism in a virus except that it isn't alive itself, and is only animated by something that is alive. I suppose someone might argue that the virus is made alive by its host, but to me then we have to include my bicycle as alive while I ride it.
A bicycle is an inanimate object, it isn't quite the same as a virus because it lacks genetic material and it can't reproduce, so you would need to find a better example to fit the same criterion as a virus. I see your point, and agree almost whole-heartedly, but as I said earlier without the definition of what life consists and constitutes of; no one here is going to ever agree on a 100% definition of what life is.
 

Les Sleeth

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Jeebus said:
Good point. But prokaryotes lack a nucleus. The organelles of eukaryotes allow them to exhibit much higher levels of intracellular division of labor than is possible in prokaryotic cells, so division of prokaryotes aren't quite sufficient to substitute in for a virus, … I think.
Actually I wasn't talking about division, but rather I was comparing the dynamism of the most simple life to that of a virus, which has none.

Jeebus said:
A bicycle is an inanimate object, it isn't quite the same as a virus because it lacks genetic material and it can't reproduce, so you would need to find a better example to fit the same criterion as a virus.
You caught me being lazy there :rolleyes:. Okay, what if my bicycle wheels were connected to a belt that ran an assembly line which robotically produced other bicycles.

Jeebus said:
I see your point, and agree almost whole-heartedly, but as I said earlier without the definition of what life consists and constitutes of; no one here is going to ever agree on a 100% definition of what life is.
You are right, especially if those who have to agree include both vitalists and physicalists.
 
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FZ+ said:
Nothing does all the things a living organism is presumed to, independently. Plants need sunlight, for example. Humans need to eat. Animals usually need females, or males. Why can't we say that viruses are living carnivores, which feed on uninfected cells and digest them to function?
Everthing exchanges information and energy and under casually efficacious circumstances, complexity increases.

Changes in the physical state of viruses and there higher hierarchy, meet these conditions.
 
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Rader
Everthing exchanges information and energy and under casually efficacious circumstances, complexity increases. Changes in the physical state of viruses and there higher hierarchy, meet these conditions.
Don't also chemical (chaotic) clocks a la Prigogine's nonequilibrium thermodynamics?
 
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LW Sleeth said:
You caught me being lazy there :rolleyes:. Okay, what if my bicycle wheels were connected to a belt that ran an assembly line which robotically produced other bicycles.
Interesting. But the robots had to 'construct' not 'produce' another of its counter-part, which doesn't even include one of its own kind. A bicycle would have to reproduce its self, not a robot doing it for another mechanical object. That bicycle which was constructed doesn't even embody the same features as its creator, most likely. Even so, the robot that manufactures the bicycles needs an operator, and that operator [if isn't human] has another robot to control "order" in manufacturing. So by default a human had to create the robot that constructs the bicycles from assembly lines. :biggrin:

Life in this process hasn't been produced, only constructed from still inanimate objects, constructing a more mechanical-moving machine.
 
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Jeebus:
What is the difference between "to produce" and "to construct"?
 
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Imparcticle said:
Jeebus:
What is the difference between "to produce" and "to construct"?
Heh, I knew I was going to have this question. I shouldn't have used 'construct', but it by no means effects the analogy.

This is how I see it. Production of living organisms mentioned above reproduces other organisms to produce a new organism. (Virus) --> To construct, in my term above is already made up of mechanical mechanisms of inanimate objects to begin with, including scrap metal, nuts, bolts, gears, etc, that is what I was referring to as constructing a larger, more intelligent robot constructing a lesser robot of less intelligence, ergo the bicycle is formed.
 

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