Question was inspired by this user from Yahoo, thought I'd get some opinions on this on Think Atheist.

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Question: What is the attribute which we can say constitutes life?

Consider this, two genetically identical bacteria are placed in two identical spaces. Into both spaces the same amount of heat energy is added.

Into one space, the heat kills the bacteria. In the other space, the heat is applied for a prolonged period of time, but lower, and so, does not kill the bacteria.

The only change was the input of energy, nothing else. If E=mc2, then they should be the same. BUT, there is a difference between the two, that which we call life. Does this not suggest a dualism, not between the tradition mind/matter but between life/matter?

Life is the ability to convert energy into matter and vice versa. It is not purely material but something else. A stone is purely material, but it cannot act on the world in the same way that something which is alive can. There is a qualitative difference between the two.

My body is material, yes, but "I" am a quality that my body alone, does not posess. I am my body, and when I die, I die, but my body will merely change, It will have a quality of NOT life, whereas I will no longer exist at all. I will not be whilst my body will still be. Therefore, we cannot be the same thing.

Yeah I was on the wrong track there completely...


You are not exactly your body, you are a particular pattern that exists in the neurons in the brain in your body.  When the chemical reactions in your body that convert matter into energy sway far enough from equilibrium that pattern will be destroyed and you will be dead.  There is no mind/brain duality.

Exactly. I will not be but my brain will still exist. Something which is not different cannot be and not be.

There must be a brain/something duality for the the brain to still exist after death, yet something else to not.

If we say that we are a brain pattern, then what do we mean exactly? Is this not a thought?

Ok, now I know you are a theist.  I stated this plainly enough for an 8 year old to understand but your scripture addled brain may take several repetitions.  I did not say that you were your brain - I said you were a particular pattern that exists in the neurons in your brain.  Once that pattern can no longer be sustained within the brain chemistry, it dissipates, and that erases 'you' - that is when you are dead.  So that pattern is gone and you are gone - no duality at all.

Calm down sweetheart, I'm not a theist. You don't need to believe in life after death to be a dualist. I stated earlier, "When I die, I die." Why are you confusing immortality with dualism?

You are the one suggesting that you must be something 'other' than your brain because after 'you' no longer exist, your brain continues to exist.  I've clearly explained that 'you' are not your brain, 'you' are a pattern in the neurons of your brain.  Has that sunken in yet?  Or are you still thinking you've come up with a great philosophical contradiction here?

If I am patterns in a brain, how can two separate brain patterns in the same brain be the same person? When we scan brain activity we see all kinds of different brain patterns accessing all different areas of the brain, yet we always say they are the same person. Despite all the rapidly changing and evolving patterns in the brain, there is no discontinuity between the "I" which perceives and understands the world. 

I'm not talking about great philosophical contradiction or idea, what the hell is this place anyway? You seem awfully defensive for no reason at all. I imagined this would be a free exchange of ideas. There's no need to get personal.

When we scan the brain we see a very complex pattern of activity that can, by analysis, be broken into smaller pieces for study - but it's all just you, all just part of a very complex pattern.

This place is all about a free exchange of ideas and even theists are welcome.  If you believe in some life/matter duality I really don't care - but there is no evidence to support such a view and the apologetics you offer in place of evidence have no more substance than those offered for religion.  You'll do a lot better around here if you show up armed with evidence.

I came here for answers, hence the first post "Question". Show up around here armed with evidence? This isn't a war.

You still haven't answered the initial question. Is there not a dualism between life and matter?


I've answered it several times - there is no dualism to be found between life and matter.  Life is just a state of matter, nothing more.  Now it 'could' be that there is more to it, but there is zero evidence to support any such concept and plenty of evidence against many such concepts.

RE: "You seem awfully defensive for no reason at all. I imagined this would be a free exchange of ideas."

I strongly suspect that that may well be because you seem to believe that if you repeat an erroneous concept often enough, that will make it true.




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