Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

They're made out of meat.

  1. Dec 15, 2003 #1
    Psychodelerium posted this in the old PFs, and I found it on the Archive C.D. and thought it was relevant to current discussions, so I'm re-posting it here.

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2003 #2
    btw, I put the author's name in bold merely for the purpose of reminding everyone, if you wish to copy this story you must give credit to the author. It seems like alot of people have copied this story on the internet, and haven't given the author any credit...but then, I think the people here, on the PFs, have better judgement than that. I'm just making sure :smile:.
  4. Dec 16, 2003 #3
    So, what do you think? I know it seems like pure satire, but I thought it had relevance to some of the threads that have been going on recently.

    For a couple of examples:

    1) In my thread about "life" and whether it was a meaningful distinction or not, it has been stated that the definition of "life" may be "anything of cellular construct". This has obviously implications in the story (since they couldn't even accept that this "meat" was alive at all).

    2) In the threads about consciousness, it is often seen as impossible that "just the physical" could be responsible for conscious experience. However, what was remarkable to this superior race was that meat could be conscious.

    In both of these examples it is seen as remarkable that things do work the way they do. This, instead of the opinion of many that consciousness cannot be "simply physical" and that "life" must refer to cellular life.
  5. Dec 17, 2003 #4
    Yes, I was kind of wondering if this was why you posted this thread. The only problem is that you seem to be giving way too much credibility to these aliens which may or may not exist.

    This is why I took it to imply the sense of alienation (get it?) felt between consciousness -- what, many would deem as "spiritual" -- and the "physical reality" of meat which, by and large is not conscious: where "the weight" is placed on consciousness -- which, is "alien" to the realm of meat. In other words how do we reconcile ourselves to having a conscious entity and a physical entity without a sense of "alienation" or, being treated like we're from outer space?

    Do you realize that we have a way of alienating people by the things we say and do?
  6. Dec 17, 2003 #5

    Well, I didn't mean that we should just take the aliens' word for it, I just found it interesting that the aliens could appreciate the miracle of conscious meat while the conscious meat itself can't.

    By simply recognizing (as did the aliens) that there's nothing to our consciousness but chemical processes occuring in the meat.

    Sure. Why do you ask?
  7. Dec 17, 2003 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I took it as a general jab at parochialism, but with an understanding that parochialism is virtually inescapable. When you have an established worldview (meat doesn't think), it is unchangeable without a truly mind-blowing experience (checking the meat out yourself). Even then, it might be best to just ignore the truth.

    Nobody thinks outside the box. Some people just have bigger boxes than others.

    BTW, Mentat, I like that sig, is it new?

  8. Dec 17, 2003 #7
    I suppose that's true...it's interesting to me how the people with bigger boxes generally only overlap their box with the boxes of "normally accepted truth", they don't usually contain these boxes and reach beyond in all directions.

    Yeah, well, new to me anyway. I really admire Dan Dennett, so I was looking up some quotes by him and liked this one.
  9. Dec 17, 2003 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I had always "eschewed" philosophers, to put it mildly. After coming to this site, and reading some of, I think, Ragesk8's posts I got into it a bit more. At first, to tear into it, but I found it interesting. I've barely touched the surface, and my ignorance of the jargon makes it slow-going, but I do find Dennet and Rorty interesting.

    What gets to me though, is that now I'm interested in the subject, but can't argue it well! That bugs the hell outta me! Economics, history, science, even religion and politics, I jump in with both feet. Philosophy, I still have to make sure I'm not arguing against something I agree with.

  10. Dec 17, 2003 #9

    That's one of my favorite aspects of philosophy: it makes you challenge the things you would otherwise take for granted, and give you next-to-nothing to stand on in doing this.
  11. Dec 17, 2003 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Why do you suppose that is?
  12. Dec 17, 2003 #11


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It's surely relatively easy to think of interesting extensions to good ol' homo sap. and life on Earth - and some of our fellow humans have extraordinarily creative imaginations - but without some counter-examples, or contrary data, how can you constrain what you dream up?

    As other fellow humans venture forth and bring back wild and woolly tales, we all learn that the Universe is 'weirder than we can think'*. A whole ecology at crushing depths and extraordinary temperatures, based on H-S-Fe chemistry and not photosynthesis? Who'd a thunk it?

    *who'll be the first to set me straight on what this famous person actually said, and in what context?
  13. Dec 18, 2003 #12
    Perhaps because no one human is capable of looking at any issue from everyone's point of view at once.
  14. Dec 18, 2003 #13
    What about AI research? Also, the "constraint" on our imagination of possible life-forms could only come if we had a working definition of "life". Since we don't, we can imagine all we like, and never be "wrong" since something like that could indeed be "alive" (since "alive" would have no meaning anyway).
  15. Dec 18, 2003 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    :smile: Well said!

    I will quickly get out of my depth here, and probably stray way beyond "Metaphysics and Epistemology", but here goes ...

    "AI research" is surely a good case to study - the term has changed in meaning quite a lot in the last few decades; the hopes of the founders have foundered; and on. One part I particularly like is "common sense isn't"

    Along the way, the 'working definitions' have all changed too, to incorporate what we've learned. So, today, despite the fact that a computer can thrash the world's best at chess (once seen as a true test of AI), no one believes that IBM box is alive or intelligent.

    As I said on the "life" thread, there is no shortage of 'working definitions', for "life", "alive", "living", "consciousness", etc; it's just that they're different for different fields of study.

    But then, what's the relationship between each of the areas of active research and "Metaphysics & Epistemology"?
  16. Dec 23, 2003 #15
    If an area of research is founded on (or partially founded on) a certain definition of "life" then that definition would be part of its Epistemology.

    As it is, the definition of life (or working definitions thereof) are always a matter of Metaphysics.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook