Saturday, September 27, 2008

Life; Independent Discovery; Definitions

The thing about truth is that it's self-evident if you're skilled at looking, which is the basis of the scientific method's insistence on replicating results. As such it's always nice when I find someone independently repeating my idea.

A little line generally unrelated to the piece at hand.
"Amoebas and smaller single-celled organisms respond to their surroundings, not just in a pre-organised way, but flexibly, managing to respond and adapt even to new circumstances. This kind of responsiveness to the environment, in his view, is the elementary precursor to true intentionality: the responses are not, in detail at least, written into the organism, and they are, at a basic level, goal-directed."
In other words, someone else has discovered my definition of life, although without realizing what they've found.

All life can be assigned goals; threats can be defined for which the amoeba will defend against; for instance, threats to the integrity of the cell wall. Similarly, it likes to find food, and any circumstance where its sensors are useful will result in food-finding behaviour.

However, this intentionality is not an actual object or a real physical property. Strong emergence doesn't exist.* Ergo, it cannot be the basis of our conscious intentionality.

*(I should really write a note about how to define what a 'property' is.)

Rather, this definition is simply the result of the proper way to go about definition; if we have a word in natural language, like life, with a strong intuitive definition but lacking a logical one, we must tailor the logic to match the intuition as closely as possible. However, we cannot expect, one way or another, to define something that actually exists. We must discover this by analyzing the definition we construct.

Energy exists, and has properties which define interactions. As it happens, we called some sets of these interactions 'life.' However, while meaningful to us, the distinction between alive and dead is arbitrary, physically speaking, which is why the definition must be phrased 'can be assigned goals,' not 'has goals.'

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