or are we just a collection of living things (i.e. cells) working in coordination?
I would say a living thing. All of our "parts" work together with a central mind in control. A colony of ants would be a "collection of living things working in coordination".Are we a living thing, or are we just a collection of living things (i.e. cells) working in coordination?
I think it's somewhat comparable to say a piano.
Is there really a piano or is it a bunch of strings and wood blocks.
I mean, we can say this about anything basically.
I see a human as a complete life. If we go by the wikipedia definition of life, which includes reproduction, response to stimuli and so forth, we see that we need to include a lot of different things that individually would not be life.
Therefore I think a life is a compound of different functions, like the ones mentioned on wikipedia..
But on a more analytical level, if I cut off my arm, that arm could say to be alive at least for a period, so that brings up some interesting questions like which things define life.
But I don't know exactly what you meant in your original post so won't get into it.
I'd have to disagree about it being like a piano. Pianos have no fractal nature to them whatsoever. Life does. Living cells are also defined as living, just like you and me. Piano strings are not defined as pianos.
...this doesn't hold for the cells themselves: their components are not considered alive.
like living humans, cells are defined as living, but not as human. Like inert objects, piano strings are defined as inert but not as pianos
No, I think that's enough analogyzing. Staying with your OP where you ask if we are a living thing or a collection working in coordination, under the point of view that life is a process then both points of view are not mutually exclusive. Each cell undergoes a process we call life. The collection of cells that form a human also undergoes a process we call life. We are both a living thing AND a collection of living things. One does not preclude the other.If you'd like to carry the analogy...
A well-rounded operational definition of life could be "a self-sustaining chemical system that can undergo Darwinian evolution".
No, I think that's enough analogyzing. Staying with your OP where you ask if we are a living thing or a collection working in coordination, under the point of view that life is a process then both points of view are not mutually exclusive. Each cell undergoes a process we call life. The collection of cells that form a human also undergoes a process we call life. We are both a living thing AND a collection of living things. One does not preclude the other.
I guess I'm trying to find the difference between obvious biological systems and systems like our planet. I doubt evolutionary processes apply to Earth at all though. It can be said that it has changed with time, but as far as we can tell, it does this in accordance with the physical laws that govern it. But how are life systems different (given that the chemical system is fundamentally a physical system) than other cycles that exchange energy and chemistry. For example, would it be possible for non-biological systems to experience consciousness? Could we even answer such a question?
1) That's because the earth is not alive?
2) If consciousness is seen as also a biological process or metaprocesses nested within other biological processes, then the sort of consciusness we experience would be improbable given non-biological processes.
Kenny_L said:Does 'we' include frogs, bacteria, worms, plants etc too?
Hence my piano example.
Humans may not be a living thing as a whole, that may be a thing we apply to ourselves by means of our brain, just like the piano is not really a piano, it's a collection of it's component parts.
But either way it gets kind of messy in my head when I think about this.
Like for instance how do we define what a living things boundaries go?
We know that the body is contained within the skin, so is the skin the boundary of the living entity?
Can the skin be defined as the life, and everything within it is alive?
Because in that case we just have to say that everything contained within a container of sorts that belongs to the entity, is as a whole a living thing.
I don't know if you want to get this overly complicated about it though.