bob, 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 ind 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 identity--hydrogen. 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 life? with warmth and oomph--howard ---------- Howard Bloom Howardbloom.net 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 Media). 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 York 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, u...@umces.edu 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. Howard, 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 cosmos > 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 interpretations. > here's how I put it in a proposal for a book i have to get back to writing > 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 heâ€™d been a minute ago. 99.999% of those > cells > were still intact and totally capable of going about their business. And > 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 natureâ€”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 common! > with oomph--howard With oomph back at you! :) Bob
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