yes, we agree. and the materials you quote are gorgeous.
i agree with you that life is a process.  but a process made up of a  
hierarchy of sub-processes, the way that you and I are made of hierarchies  of 
ividual cells.
the word I find most useful for the envelope, the flame that life  provides 
is "identity."  when the first proton and electron got together  roughly 
380,000 years after the big bang, their marriage produced something far  
beyond adding one plus one particle and getting two.  they produced a new  
stars, galaxies, and planets have identities.  but those  identities  are 
primitive compared to the identity of Enzo Tiezzi's deer,  of martin luther 
king, jr., and of you and me.
and still, even knowing that life is a verb, not a noun, what the heck is  
with warmth and oomph--howard
Howard Bloom
author of : The  Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces 
of History  ("mesmerizing"-The Washington Post), Global Brain: The 
Evolution of Mass Mind  from the Big Bang to the 21st Century  ("reassuring and 
sobering"-The New  Yorker), The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of 
Capitalism  ("Impressive, stimulating, and tremendously enjoyable."James 
Fallows, National  Correspondent, The Atlantic), The God Problem: How A Godless 
Cosmos Creates  ("Bloom's argument will rock your world." Barbara Ehrenreich), 
How I  Accidentally Started the Sixties (“a monumental,epic, glorious 
literary  achievement.” Timothy Leary), and The Muhammad Code:  How a Desert 
Prophet  Gave You ISIS, al Qaeda, and Boko Haram--or How Muhammad Invented 
Jihad (
“a  terrifying book…the best book I’ve read on Islam,” David Swindle, PJ  
Former Core Faculty Member, The Graduate Institute; Former Visiting  Scholar
—Graduate Psychology Department, NewYork University
Founder:  International PaleopsychologyProject; founder and chair, Space 
Development  Steering Committee; Founding Board Member: Epic of Evolution 
Society; Founding  Board Member, The Darwin Project; Board Of Governors, 
National Space Society;  Founder: The Big Bang Tango Media Lab; member: New 
Academy of  Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 
American  Psychological Society, Academy of Political Science, Human Behavior 
and  Evolution Society, International Society for Human Ethology,  Scientific 
 Advisory Board Member, Lifeboat Foundation.  

In a message dated 2/15/2017 8:29:52 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, writes:

> bob,
> i agree with you.  the  Heraclitean metaphor of the whorl in a stream  has
> something to  say about life.
> you're right that life is a  process.
> another metaphor for life is the flame, an immaterial  thing that rises
> from
>  material objects and that dances  within a self-carved envelope of
> identity
>  that rises far  higher than the logs that feed it.


Thanks for replying.  Yes, Karl Popper used the flame analogy in his last
book, "A World of  Propensities". I cite it in my paper.

> the hebrews used another  metaphor--wind.  the literal translation of a
> line from genesis  is, "in the beginning was chaos, and the wind of god
> blew
>  over  the faces of the waters."  the king james bible translates  that as
> "the
> spirit of god blew."  wind is another useful  metaphor for life.

I believe the Hebrew word is "Rukh", and the image  of God blowing over the
waters is one of my favorite in the scriptures.  (Similarly for the whisper
that Elijah experienced in 1Kings.) I also like  the 23rd (?) verse of the
Navy Hymn, which goes something like:

"O  Sacred Spirit who didst brood
Above the chaos dark and rude
Who badest  the mighty tumult cease
And gave us life and light and peace.
O hear us  when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!"

> and,  following your lead, i suspect that life depends on a hierarchy   of
> processes.
> but, apparently, life is a process far,  far over and above the  processes
> within it.  a very unique  process.  so unique that objects  in this 
> divide into  two very different categories:
>     *    abiotic--without life
>     *   and  biological--with life
> so life is both a process and something  far beyond the sum of its  parts.
> how can we capture the nature  of that higher identity?

I respect your opinion that life is above  process. In my paper I identify
it as "a configuration of processes", but  am open to higher

> here's how I put it in a  proposal for a book i have to get back to 
> in nine months or  so:
> What  is life?  When a bullet went through   the right cheek of Martin
> Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, on the  balcony of  the Lorraine Motel
> in
> Memphis, Tennessee,  very little changed.  King was still the same
> collective  of
> one hundred trillion cells he’d been a minute ago.  99.999%  of those
> cells
> were still intact  and totally capable of  going about their business.  
> King was still in the same   location.  Yet something profound  had
> disappeared. What was  it?  Why  does that mysterious something defy the
> concepts  with
> which we currently view  nature—concepts based on  reductionism, the
> principle
> of least effort, and the   second law of thermodynamics?  How  can science
> finally  confront that strange something?

I recount a remarkably similar  situation in my paper:

" In fact, life is itself process (a verb)  comprised of other processes.
It is decidedly not a thing (a noun) (Popper  1990). Perhaps nowhere is
this disparity better illustrated than with Enzo  Tiezzi’s (2006)
description of a dead deer. The thermodynamicist Tiezzi  owned and ran an
estate in Tuscany that was plagued by deer grazing on his  olive trees and
grapevines. In frustration, he shot a deer and then was  transfixed as he
looked down at the dead animal. He asked himself, “What is  different about
this deer now than when it was alive only tens of seconds  ago?” Its mass,
form, bound energy, genomes – even its molecular  configurations – all
these things remain virtually unchanged immediately  after death. What was
missing after death was the configuration of  processes that had been
co-extensive with the animated deer – the very  phenomena by which the deer
was recognized as being alive."

There is  remarkable parallelism in our thinking. That we come at the
question from  opposite beliefs only adds consilience to what we hold  in

> with oomph--howard

With oomph back at you!  :)


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