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Thread: "Life" is just chemical reactions, or chemistry?

  1. #1 "Life" is just chemical reactions, or chemistry? 
    Forum Ph.D. stander-j's Avatar
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    I hold that this is a metaphor, with also some basis as simply the truth (in regards to specific things, not everything). Everything, even conceptual things, can be looked at as chemicals. We have predispositions to do certain things (react) in certain ways when confronted with a situation. These results are the result of the type of "chemical" we are (the predisposition), and likewise, the "chemicals" we intake - the quality of the air we breathe, the foods we eat, the experiences we have, the choices we make, etc. reflect the "chemicals" that we become when we "react" with our surroundings. This isn't really a theory or anything like that, it's moreso the basis of a story (which admittedly is a more literal interpretation, with a great deal more fleshed-out). I'm interested in your thoughts about life just being, and while in search of better words, one big chemical reaction. If I haven't really explained enough, please ask and I'll try to clarify.

    I'd also like to know if someone has come across an idea like this before. Additionally, do you think that could describe something sort of like fate. Not fate as in you absolutely will die on a certain day and stuff like that, but moreso in the sense that if we are are a result of what we were when we were born - and thereby will be influenced that, along with our surroundings and what we take in physically. Do you think that would mean we are not only predisposed to make choices but inevitably will make those choices?

    My apologies if this is in the wrong forum area, I figured it mostly matches a philosophical view moreso than anything else.


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    Forum Ph.D. stander-j's Avatar
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    I will say now, I am very aware of the similarities an idea of cause and effect.


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  4. #3  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Why do you stop at chemistry, since chemistry is merely the result of physical interactions determined by a handful of constants, forces and laws.

    Alternatively you can consider life to be an emergent property, wherein the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Why do you stop at chemistry, since chemistry is merely the result of physical interactions determined by a handful of constants, forces and laws.

    Alternatively you can consider life to be an emergent property, wherein the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
    I like that! I stopped at chemisty because I didn't really think too much beyond that, and the whole notion stemmed from the idea for the previously mentioned story. Any thoughts about the question of free-will?
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    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post
    Any thoughts about the question of free-will?
    I feel compelled to say I am not sure.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post
    Any thoughts about the question of free-will?
    I feel compelled to say I am not sure.
    Fair enough
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  8. #7  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Your neutral reply suggests you may have not have grasped the point of my reply: in a discussion on free will I felt compelled - I did not choose to state I was uncertain, I had no option.

    When you have to explain them, you know you made a mistake trying.
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    Substrates do not determine patterns.

    Chains of cause and effect go in both directions, in the interaction of levels of pattern with their substrates - the fate of a water molecule depends as much on the shape of the snowflake it collides with as the snowflake shape depends on the water molecule. It is just as accurate to observe that the chemical reactions in a lizards stomach depend on the lizard's state and behavior, as vice versa.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Substrates do not determine patterns.

    Chains of cause and effect go in both directions, in the interaction of levels of pattern with their substrates - the fate of a water molecule depends as much on the shape of the snowflake it collides with as the snowflake shape depends on the water molecule. It is just as accurate to observe that the chemical reactions in a lizards stomach depend on the lizard's state and behavior, as vice versa.
    Your analogy leads me to believe that all life's chemical interactions with each other should appear as total chaos but for some strange reason it prefers repetition of familiar chemical reactions day in and day out that allow it to continue for the next day and the next day and so on.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Your neutral reply suggests you may have not have grasped the point of my reply: in a discussion on free will I felt compelled - I did not choose to state I was uncertain, I had no option.

    When you have to explain them, you know you made a mistake trying.
    At first I thought you were employing rhetoric. But now it sounds more like it was the joke I thought it may possibly be - if so, I had a chuckle at the thought.
    Last edited by stander-j; January 12th, 2012 at 08:28 PM.
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  12. #11 I knew I couldn't be the only one... 
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    I have been thinking about this for quite some time now and the analogy seems almost parallel and makes sense of a lot of things...
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    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Your neutral reply suggests you may have not have grasped the point of my reply: in a discussion on free will I felt compelled - I did not choose to state I was uncertain, I had no option.

    When you have to explain them, you know you made a mistake trying.
    At first I thought you were employing rhetoric. But now it sounds more like it was the joke I thought it may possibly be - if so, I had a chuckle at the thought.
    It was intended as humour, but humour that illustrated a central point of the discussion.
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    Ive gotten accostumed to the Galtish humour. And no, it's not a bad thing. Your actually pretty good at it.

    For the purpose of the topic, i'll continue by introducing a new question related to the topic.

    Why do you stop at chemistry, since chemistry is merely the result of physical interactions determined by a handful of constants, forces and laws.


    This image illustrates the idea of the topic. But is it this easy? Or is there a gap. What are we missing. Philosophically speaking, what are we missing..
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    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Some nutters have agendas, but I have mantras. The relevant one here is:

    Humans like to classify into boxes even when there are no boxes.
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  16. #15  
    Forum Ph.D. stander-j's Avatar
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    This is a crazy coincidence. I was actually thinking about this thread last Friday - the free will part that is. I started thinking about consciousness, or more importantly, our ability to think about thinking. I've to the conclusion that, which always seems to be the case, it isn't one or the other - but both at the same time.

    I saw a video where somebody argued for determinism. This man used making a decision between a glass of orange juice, and a glass of milk, as an example. He said that he decided on the orange juice. Interestingly, he used the same sort of reasoning I had used. He believed that if he went back in time, he would always select the orange juice - because that is what his current state of being had afforded.

    This made me think of the following:

    If free will didn't play a role, why would Orange Juice vs. Milk even be a question?
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  17. #16  
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    The body tells us what it needs. If you want Orange juice, you probably need vitamin c and sugar. If you want Milk, you probably want minerals, fats and some proteins..
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    The body tells us what it needs. If you want Orange juice, you probably need vitamin c and sugar. If you want Milk, you probably want minerals, fats and some proteins..
    What if you want endless sex?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    The body tells us what it needs. If you want Orange juice, you probably need vitamin c and sugar. If you want Milk, you probably want minerals, fats and some proteins..
    Why does it want beer?
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    The body tells us what it needs. If you want Orange juice, you probably need vitamin c and sugar. If you want Milk, you probably want minerals, fats and some proteins..
    What if you want endless sex?
    That's great. You should worry when it doesn't.
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    The body tells us what it needs. If you want Orange juice, you probably need vitamin c and sugar. If you want Milk, you probably want minerals, fats and some proteins..
    Why does it want beer?
    to lower your standards in people to get sex?
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    The body tells us what it needs. If you want Orange juice, you probably need vitamin c and sugar. If you want Milk, you probably want minerals, fats and some proteins..
    What if you want endless sex?
    Have you ever gotten endless sex? I can tell you, your happy when it finally ends.

    Btw, guys don't have that problem. After an orgasm, a guy's heart rate slows, hormones are released to feel more at ease, etc. It'll be one though challenge to simply keep on going. Say for 11 days and 11 nights straight..

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    The body tells us what it needs. If you want Orange juice, you probably need vitamin c and sugar. If you want Milk, you probably want minerals, fats and some proteins..
    Why does it want beer?
    Well, because we all like to forget sometimes. I know i can't talk with women when i'm sober, i'll be all technical and stuff, can't stop myself. If i drink beer, i may talk about a lamp, or whatever she's wearing, so she actually understands me. Which is required to pick up women...
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    The body tells us what it needs. If you want Orange juice, you probably need vitamin c and sugar. If you want Milk, you probably want minerals, fats and some proteins..
    That was my point. If the decision is based on your current state, then why would the question be considered? Wouldn't you just select the OJ without bothering for the milk, or the reverse?
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  24. #23  
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    I dont know how its come to sex, but as for the OP, there are interactions in the universe, some of those interactions are a pattern that we call chemical reactions, we use the arbitrary word or label "Life" do designate some of these.


    The body tells us what it needs.


    Only In part, however theres a huge part of all this that is due to interaction with the environment, historical/[genetical, cellular] and recent/[neuralpattern] (personal experience, witnessing, culture, advertizing, etc)
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    If we have no free-will, I suggest we keep on acting as if we do! I'm not convinced we are mere floating cork on a churning ocean - more like a dinghy, that, with some smarts and a lot of effort, can get to the destination we choose.

    Whether the sense of self - of making choices and of a 'self' driving the impulse to act - is a bio-electro-chemical process entirely different from how that self perceives itself doesn't really change our day to day reality. Choices may not be entirely what we perceive them to be, or be based strictly on the criteria we think we weighed up, but information and experience themselves become part of that bio-electro-chemistry and in a sense decisions will be pre-decided or skewed by that. Not so much lacking free-will, but making decisions involves processes we are not conscious of as well by ones we are. We can row harder, pull this direction or that and imagine that ocean is flat and calm and it's our free-will doing the piloting but our little dinghy of consciousness is being tossed about somewhat like a cork. But that "churning sea" is not external to the process and it isn't randomly chaotic.
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