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(Strict) definition of Life

  1. Nov 5, 2011 #1
    Hi All.

    Recently I came across pretty interesting description of life, which was positioned as ultimate truth, and the funniest thing is that concerning it's strictness and at the same time generality it looks like pretty probable candidate.
    I wonder what do you think about it, can it stand as ultimate and perfect fundamental physical, philosophical and biological definition of Life, or does it have flaws from this point?


    Life is a period of consistency of the essence of representation and/or processes.
    Note:
    The essence (or main, or the most significant part) of representation or processes of something is not obliged to be uniform and is relative to perception of observer.
    (One can choose and consider life of different aspects of something.)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2011 #2

    Evo

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    Staff: Mentor

    It doesn't even make sense. Where on earth did you hear this?
     
  4. Nov 5, 2011 #3

    Ryan_m_b

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    It really doesn't make any sense. What on Earth does essence of representation mean? What is meant by not obliged to be uniform? And what counts as a period of consistency? Furthermore how would you apply this to real world problems such as the classification of viruses as living organisms vs bionanoparticles?

    Whilst definitions of life are difficult to pin down the general rule that I go by (and was taught as a biologist) is anything that has a metabolism and reproduces. Obviously there are exceptions, a sterile organism is still alive for example and it makes it difficult to classify things like viruses but in all honesty "life" is a fairly arbitrary classification. Hence why we go by a system of fairly common characteristics amongst things we call life e.g. respiration, metabolism, reproduction etc
     
  5. Nov 5, 2011 #4
    ))
    Thanks for your comments. I did not fully understand you though, but... maybe you're right. The time will show. Or will not show )
     
  6. Nov 5, 2011 #5
    )
    It's strange to hear this, but I asked it here, because life, together with its main basic attributes long ago crossed bounds of biology and has become ubiquitous in non-biological areas, especially in the context of physics, be it physical particles or bionanoparticles, I view words life or lifetime already as something that does not require additional explanations.
    General dictionaries, for instance, do not tie it strictly to biology: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lifetime
     
  7. Nov 5, 2011 #6

    Ryan_m_b

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    This is just an issue of semantics; life is a biological term however people use words like "lifetime" and terms like "over the life of the project" to refer to the period of time something remains usable or how long a period lasts. The fact that we use these terms in everyday life says nothing about whether or not there is a relation between biological phenomenon and social constructs that warrants an all-encompassing definition.

    Think of it this way, in everyday language we use a variety of terms that are technically inappropriate for example; "he is in a high position", "what a low-life", "she has a heart of gold". These terms are metaphorical and absolutely do not mean than when we are trying to define gold we have to include personality traits of social kindness along with the physical definitions of Au.

    Do you understand? If we tried to create definitions that span between the physical and the semantic we wont get anywhere. It's impractical and unnecessary.
     
  8. Nov 5, 2011 #7

    Evo

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    That's not a directory definition of life, that's the definition of "lifetime". Nothing to do with the definition of life.

    This thread is obviously the result of confusion about and misunderstanding of words. It's pointless.
     
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