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Inanimate/living


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#1
Fealiks

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In my Philosophy class we were learning about Plato's hierarchy of Forms. Our teacher wrote out the hierarchy on the white board (I can't find exactly how the hierarchy goes anywhere on the internet, but I'm going to trust what our teacher told us) and I noticed that physical inanimate objects were below physical living objects. Without meaning to start any sort of argument, I said that Plato was part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor; take him away, and that it should simply be "physical objects" because there is no way of distinguishing between living and inanimate objects. Everyone in the class was baffled, and many were aroused simply by my presence, so I explained. I said that since there is no way of measuring life, there is no distinction between inanimate and living objects. Nobody in the class agreed with me. I won't share every point I made for fear of ruining the argument by winning triumphantly in the opening post, but what are your thoughts? Can you distinguish between inanimate and living objects?
QUOTE (Jengerer @ Nov 16 2009, 10:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This. Fealiks knows what he's talking about here, unlike the rest of the people in this thread. I'll probably slap a lock on this and sticky it so that people can make a good example of his intelligence.


#2
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Inanimate has different meanings to different people. Inanimate is the opposite of animate. There lies the question, just because and object isn't animated, it's lifeless?
As human beings, we are very animate. We move, we build, we destroy, we create, we imagine, etc. We are also that live: we are born, we do stuff in our lifetime, and we die.
Now the oceans, you could say they are animated by storms, by waves, by creatures in the sea. But is the body of water "alive"? Metaphorically speaking, it is; literally, it's not. Water is a mineral.
What about plants? They're inanimate, they are relatively inanimate, yet they are living things. I also heard that if you have two plants near each other, they will be happier. They may be in two different pots, but when they're near each other, they're happier and better off. I'm not sure how true this is, but that's what I heard. And those two plants are just sitting there. They may grow, but they're pretty lifeless. People throw out plants all the time without consciousness or knowledge that they may be living creatures like cats or dogs.

You can actually distinguish between inanimate and animate thing. You can distinguish between living things and lifeless things. Rocks are eternal, animals are mortal.

I also sense something unstated in your argument. We are not any different than rocks in terms of purpose. We can into this life with no purpose, except the biological drive to reproduce, just like any other living creature. Yet we don't have any spiritual purposes given to us at birth. Just like rocks and animals, we're just born and we carry on with our lives. Sure, you may be raised as a Christian or a Muslim and be brought up to think that serving god is the ultimate purpose, but that's a belief embedded in you by somebody else or by yourself.

Plato's Hierarchy of Forms can be used to define how technologically advanced we are compared to rocks. But that's only because we have the capabilities to be so advanced.

Get where I'm getting at?

#3
Fealiks

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Yeah, those are some good points - but what I guess is meant by "inanimate" is "lifeless" rather than "not moving". This is where the problem is. I would argue that it is not possible to measure life and that it is therefore not possible to distinguish between living and non-living things.

There are too many variables which are said to constitute life to be able to measure it properly, so how can you distinguish between living and non-living things?

You used the example of a rock being immortal and an animal being mortal, but this is not true. Rocks are not immortal; nothing is. A rock will erode, change, etc. and eventually it will take the form of something else, in the same way that the flesh of a dead animal will be eaten by other animals and microbes and become animal/microbe shit.

I would not say that living things are separate from lifeless things, but rather that both are physical objects of different descriptions.

Edited by Fealiks, 07 October 2009 - 06:15 PM.

QUOTE (Jengerer @ Nov 16 2009, 10:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This. Fealiks knows what he's talking about here, unlike the rest of the people in this thread. I'll probably slap a lock on this and sticky it so that people can make a good example of his intelligence.


#4
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Here are some more points
Many living things such as insects, animals, and maybe even plants, have feelings (yes, insects have feelings). Living creatures also interact with each other.
Do rocks have feelings? No. Do rocks interact with us? No. Do we interact with Rocks? Yes. Do plants interact with each other and with animals? This is debately, but I argue that they do.

We are both made of minerals and we all originate from the same source. Living things have evolved to be a complex combination of minerals; we are made of billions of cells.
I see what you are saying, but there is a difference between living things and lifeless things, on the physical, emotional and mental aspects.

#5
zalzaron

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I both hated and loved philosophy because it could be about very important subjects and lead to intresting debates or it could lead to this, vague conversations from wich no answer of value can come.

Life is simply something that is aware if it's own exsistence no matter in what degree, everything from us humans that are aware of our own mortality to goldfish that simply know they want to get food. Any creature that is aware of it's own needs and desires and thus aims to support it's exsistence is alive. Plants feed of the sunlight, fish eat food, insects eat food and we humans are the most complex of all.

Rocks seek nothing, rocks are not aware of their own exsistence and do not strive after goals like self-sustenance.

Edited by zalzaron, 08 October 2009 - 02:42 AM.


#6
Fealiks

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So if I build a robot which is self aware, can think for itself, feel, interact and support itself, is it alive? At what point do you give a computer life? What about single-celled organisms? They are not self aware and cannot think for themselves in any substantial capacity - are they not alive?
QUOTE (Jengerer @ Nov 16 2009, 10:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This. Fealiks knows what he's talking about here, unlike the rest of the people in this thread. I'll probably slap a lock on this and sticky it so that people can make a good example of his intelligence.


#7
zalzaron

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QUOTE (Fealiks @ Oct 8 2009, 03:38 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So if I build a robot which is self aware, can think for itself, feel, interact and support itself, is it alive? At what point do you give a computer life? What about single-celled organisms? They are not self aware and cannot think for themselves in any substantial capacity - are they not alive?


Going into wether or not future robots that might have an AI and control that we cannot even imagine yet are equal to humans is a completly different subject and going into that would be a huge detour from this subject. In short i would say they are not alive because in the end they are still constructed from non-living materials and thus are nothing more then imitating life. Again let's not get into that it's a detour.

And as i stated things are alive if they are aware of their exsistence. I then said that aware of your exsistence means aiming to sustain yourself, and single-celled organisms still aim to either sustain themselves or their species (as far as one has species in single-celled creatures). So there is a fragment awareness as simple as it might be that drives them to either sustain themselves or strive to allow their race to survive.

Non-living things make no effort at all at self preservation or continuation and are thus not alive.

#8
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This isn't a detour; if you qualify life as something that is self aware, and you qualify being self aware as aiming to sustain yourself, then would you call a robot which is self-aware and aims to sustain itself alive? Where is the difference?

You said that they are not alive because they are constructed by non-living materials. Let's look at this.

How would you qualify material as living or non-living? I assume that it would not be the same as qualifying an entity as living/non-living (i.e. I assume you won't say that flesh aims to sustain its existence in itself). I would assume that you qualifying a living material as something which has cells, something which moves or changes as a part of a bigger entity, etc. and maybe something that depends on the function of that bigger entity.

Let's imagine, then, that this robot I built which is aware of itself and aims to sustain itself is made up of tiny robot cells or nanobots, which work individually the same as animal and plant cells. The robot has sensory receptors which are made up of nanobots, robot muscles which are made up of nanobots, and a robot brain which is made up of nanobots. In order to reproduce, the robot inserts a small chip of incomplete information (robot-DNA) into another robot, wherein the chip interacts with another piece of incomplete information to complete the design of a full robot. The nanobots inside the robot who had the chip inserted will then use nutrients consumed by the robot (in the form of oil or something; irrelevant) and begin to build a new robot, which, when fully built, will be pushed out of the adult robot's chassis. This new robot will then go about life as his parent did, and he will eventually find a robot mate with which he will produce a new robot in the same way as his parents did. After a few million years, due to small glitches in the coding of their robot-DNA, several mutant robots will have been born. You might say that these completely different robots were a whole new "species" of robots.

Would you now accept that these robots were alive, or would you say that it is simply imitating life? If you say that it is imitating life, then what's to say that we aren't imitating life? By what logic would you say that one organism which sustains itself, reproduces and evolves is alive and another is not? You could say that the race of robots we have built is not alive simply because the beginnings of their race was constructed by a different organism and we were not. But how could you be sure of this? Where did we begin? It is held that the micro-organisms from which we originate came to Earth on an asteroid, which means that we were not originally from this planet. Is it not reasonable, then, to acknowledge the possibility that we were built? I'm not saying that this is the case, but to deny that it is a possibility would be illogical - you would not have any trouble believing that we humans could build a single-nanobot robot with the characteristics of a cell and launch it into space. Would it then be far-fetched to acknowledge that if, billions of years later, we were to observe these (now evolved) robots, they might have fully adapted to their environment and split into thousands of different species, one of which might be having a similar discussion to the one we are having now? Would you still say that they were not alive?

Edited by Fealiks, 08 October 2009 - 11:38 AM.

QUOTE (Jengerer @ Nov 16 2009, 10:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This. Fealiks knows what he's talking about here, unlike the rest of the people in this thread. I'll probably slap a lock on this and sticky it so that people can make a good example of his intelligence.


#9
JimRaynor

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QUOTE (Fealiks @ Oct 7 2009, 05:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Can you distinguish between inanimate and living objects?

every carnivore makes that distinction every day... if it could not .. it would die from malnourishment
QUOTE (James Madison @ Aug 25 1781, 11:48 AM)
If Tyranny and oppression come to this land it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy

#10
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QUOTE (Fealiks @ Oct 7 2009, 04:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Can you distinguish between inanimate and living objects?


Any 7th grade biology class would tell you how to distinguish a living object from an inanimate one. Plato lived before the invention of mechanized anything, so of course he wouldn't take into consideration anything that moves by itself. According to the dictionary, another meaning for inanimate is just lifeless, not that it doesn't move, it just doesn't have any of the key characteristics of life.

Edited by Dohregard, 08 October 2009 - 12:49 PM.


#11
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QUOTE (Fealiks @ Oct 7 2009, 02:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
[...] it should simply be "physical objects" because there is no way of distinguishing between living and inanimate objects. [...] I said that since there is no way of measuring life, [...] Can you distinguish between inanimate and living objects?


There is a way, an organism, whether biological or artificial, is a entity that has to sustain itself to keep alive for as long as possible. If robots didn't sustain themselves, if single-celled organisms didn't sustain themselves, if plants don't sustain themselves, if humans didn't sustain themselves, they would die sooner than later.

Rocks, can't sustain themselves. Air can't sustain itself. Mountains can't sustain themselves. They'll stay that way until they change form. They are not composed of different parts like cells. Rocks, air, any kind of mineral, are just composed of the same molecule or atom over and over again. A cell has different parts to it; a cell needs to sustain itself.

Are single-celled organisms self-aware? Are cells that are part of a bigger organism self-ware? Are mice self-aware? Maybe not in the traditional sense of the word, but they are aware that they need to sustain themselves or that they to work to sustain the bigger organism.

#12
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Another thing that came to mind.
Living things need to reproduce. Everything from single-celled organisms to plants to fish to human beings to robots. Just like rocks and machines, we deteriorate. We need to reproduce to keep out species alive. Robots will need to reproduce as well. They may live longer than us, but they still deteriorate and they will need to reproduce.

#13
zalzaron

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QUOTE (Fealiks @ Oct 8 2009, 11:32 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This isn't a detour; if you qualify life as something that is self aware, and you qualify being self aware as aiming to sustain yourself, then would you call a robot which is self-aware and aims to sustain itself alive? Where is the difference?

You said that they are not alive because they are constructed by non-living materials. Let's look at this.

How would you qualify material as living or non-living? I assume that it would not be the same as qualifying an entity as living/non-living (i.e. I assume you won't say that flesh aims to sustain its existence in itself). I would assume that you qualifying a living material as something which has cells, something which moves or changes as a part of a bigger entity, etc. and maybe something that depends on the function of that bigger entity.

Let's imagine, then, that this robot I built which is aware of itself and aims to sustain itself is made up of tiny robot cells or nanobots, which work individually the same as animal and plant cells. The robot has sensory receptors which are made up of nanobots, robot muscles which are made up of nanobots, and a robot brain which is made up of nanobots. In order to reproduce, the robot inserts a small chip of incomplete information (robot-DNA) into another robot, wherein the chip interacts with another piece of incomplete information to complete the design of a full robot. The nanobots inside the robot who had the chip inserted will then use nutrients consumed by the robot (in the form of oil or something; irrelevant) and begin to build a new robot, which, when fully built, will be pushed out of the adult robot's chassis. This new robot will then go about life as his parent did, and he will eventually find a robot mate with which he will produce a new robot in the same way as his parents did. After a few million years, due to small glitches in the coding of their robot-DNA, several mutant robots will have been born. You might say that these completely different robots were a whole new "species" of robots.

Would you now accept that these robots were alive, or would you say that it is simply imitating life? If you say that it is imitating life, then what's to say that we aren't imitating life? By what logic would you say that one organism which sustains itself, reproduces and evolves is alive and another is not? You could say that the race of robots we have built is not alive simply because the beginnings of their race was constructed by a different organism and we were not. But how could you be sure of this? Where did we begin? It is held that the micro-organisms from which we originate came to Earth on an asteroid, which means that we were not originally from this planet. Is it not reasonable, then, to acknowledge the possibility that we were built? I'm not saying that this is the case, but to deny that it is a possibility would be illogical - you would not have any trouble believing that we humans could build a single-nanobot robot with the characteristics of a cell and launch it into space. Would it then be far-fetched to acknowledge that if, billions of years later, we were to observe these (now evolved) robots, they might have fully adapted to their environment and split into thousands of different species, one of which might be having a similar discussion to the one we are having now? Would you still say that they were not alive?


Vague things from wich no answer of value can ever come is what makes me hate philosophy. Comments like this that have no reall meaning but just sound deep go a long way aswell.

Even if you DO find the answer to this, would it matter? No ofcourse not.

Philosophy can be an intresting subject and broaden our views and give birth to great ideas, but shit like this is just rich kids wasting time, ill pass on that.

#14
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I think someone forgot to pay attention in kindergarten biology. There are specific characteristics an object must posses in order to be considered to have life. The most important of which are the ability to grow, sustain itself, and reproduce. Rocks have none of these. The ocean has none of these. Water molecules cannot split off and create new ones. It is a dead/inanimate piece of matter.
QUOTE (Dark.Matter @ Apr 23 2009, 02:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This thread delivers.

#15
JimRaynor

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QUOTE (Dark.Matter @ Oct 8 2009, 04:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think someone forgot to pay attention in kindergarten biology. There are specific characteristics an object must posses in order to be considered to have life. The most important of which are the ability to grow, sustain itself, and reproduce. Rocks have none of these. The ocean has none of these. Water molecules cannot split off and create new ones. It is a dead/inanimate piece of matter.

i think you dont need the brain of a 5 year old human to figure it out...
every animal can identify living things... thats what it eats....
how long would a bengal tiger last if it started taking down rocks and boulders instead of water buffalo?
QUOTE (James Madison @ Aug 25 1781, 11:48 AM)
If Tyranny and oppression come to this land it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy

#16
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QUOTE (zalzaron @ Oct 8 2009, 09:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Vague things from wich no answer of value can ever come is what makes me hate philosophy. Comments like this that have no reall meaning but just sound deep go a long way aswell.

Even if you DO find the answer to this, would it matter? No ofcourse not.

Philosophy can be an intresting subject and broaden our views and give birth to great ideas, but shit like this is just rich kids wasting time, ill pass on that.


I wasn't vague, I was painfully specific. If you don't want to take part in the discussion then that's fine, but there's no need to demean meaningless discussion. Meaningless discussion is the most meaningful type of discussion there is.


As for

QUOTE (JimRaynor @ Oct 8 2009, 06:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
every carnivore makes that distinction every day... if it could not .. it would die from malnourishment



QUOTE (Dohregard @ Oct 8 2009, 06:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Any 7th grade biology class would tell you how to distinguish a living object from an inanimate one. Plato lived before the invention of mechanized anything, so of course he wouldn't take into consideration anything that moves by itself. According to the dictionary, another meaning for inanimate is just lifeless, not that it doesn't move, it just doesn't have any of the key characteristics of life.



QUOTE (It's ME! @ Oct 8 2009, 07:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There is a way, an organism, whether biological or artificial, is a entity that has to sustain itself to keep alive for as long as possible. If robots didn't sustain themselves, if single-celled organisms didn't sustain themselves, if plants don't sustain themselves, if humans didn't sustain themselves, they would die sooner than later.

Rocks, can't sustain themselves. Air can't sustain itself. Mountains can't sustain themselves. They'll stay that way until they change form. They are not composed of different parts like cells. Rocks, air, any kind of mineral, are just composed of the same molecule or atom over and over again. A cell has different parts to it; a cell needs to sustain itself.

Are single-celled organisms self-aware? Are cells that are part of a bigger organism self-ware? Are mice self-aware? Maybe not in the traditional sense of the word, but they are aware that they need to sustain themselves or that they to work to sustain the bigger organism.



QUOTE (It's ME! @ Oct 8 2009, 08:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Another thing that came to mind.
Living things need to reproduce. Everything from single-celled organisms to plants to fish to human beings to robots. Just like rocks and machines, we deteriorate. We need to reproduce to keep out species alive. Robots will need to reproduce as well. They may live longer than us, but they still deteriorate and they will need to reproduce.


QUOTE (Dark.Matter @ Oct 8 2009, 09:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think someone forgot to pay attention in kindergarten biology. There are specific characteristics an object must posses in order to be considered to have life. The most important of which are the ability to grow, sustain itself, and reproduce. Rocks have none of these. The ocean has none of these. Water molecules cannot split off and create new ones. It is a dead/inanimate piece of matter.



QUOTE (JimRaynor @ Oct 8 2009, 10:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
i think you dont need the brain of a 5 year old human to figure it out...
every animal can identify living things... thats what it eats....
how long would a bengal tiger last if it started taking down rocks and boulders instead of water buffalo?


Read what I wrote.
QUOTE (Jengerer @ Nov 16 2009, 10:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This. Fealiks knows what he's talking about here, unlike the rest of the people in this thread. I'll probably slap a lock on this and sticky it so that people can make a good example of his intelligence.


#17
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QUOTE (Fealiks @ Oct 8 2009, 02:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Read what I wrote.


I did read what you wrote. Your point being? Are saying i'm questioning the fact that robots can be living things as well? (which I am not)

#18
Fealiks

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No, but your post "Another thing that came to mind.
Living things need to reproduce. Everything from single-celled organisms to plants to fish to human beings to robots. Just like rocks and machines, we deteriorate. We need to reproduce to keep out species alive. Robots will need to reproduce as well. They may live longer than us, but they still deteriorate and they will need to reproduce." made me think you hadn't read what I'd wrote.

Anyway, a lot of people seem to think that I'm saying that you can't define life. Forget that. I'm saying that living objects are the same as non-living objects, just more complex; there is nothing that a living object possesses that a non-living object doesn't have the capacity to also possess.

Edited by Fealiks, 08 October 2009 - 06:16 PM.

QUOTE (Jengerer @ Nov 16 2009, 10:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This. Fealiks knows what he's talking about here, unlike the rest of the people in this thread. I'll probably slap a lock on this and sticky it so that people can make a good example of his intelligence.


#19
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QUOTE (Fealiks @ Oct 8 2009, 04:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Anyway, a lot of people seem to think that I'm saying that you can't define life. Forget that. I'm saying that living objects are the same as non-living objects, just more complex; there is nothing that a living object possesses that a non-living object doesn't have the capacity to also possess.


Such as? Logic? Emotions? Sense of humour? The ability to create shelter? The ability to create music?

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QUOTE (It's ME! @ Oct 8 2009, 04:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Such as? Logic? Emotions? Sense of humour? The ability to create shelter? The ability to create music?

the capability to get annoyed when you poke it with a sharp thing. i don't know about you but i know plenty of people who get annoyed when you poke them with sharp things, sometimes amusingly so.

there's a reason why humans are considered more living than plants and even other animals. we have the ability to define, categorize and philosophize about everything around us. it's why we have this debate. if it weren't for humans, a tree or a blade of grass would be nothing but food and sustainence for animals, rather than an object for studying and spiritualizing about.




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