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Earth Science

Boiling Down the Meaning of Life 218

Posted by timothy
from the why-are-we-here-what's-life-all-about dept.
Shipud writes "A recent article in Journal of Biomolecular structure and Dynamics proposes to define life by semantic voting [Note: open-access article]: 'The definitions of life are more than often in conflict with one another. Undeniably, however, most of them do have a point, one or another or several, and common sense suggests that, probably, one could arrive to a consensus, if only the authors, some two centuries apart from one another, could be brought together. One thing, however, can be done – short of voting in absentia – asking which terms in the definitions are the most frequent and, thus, perhaps, reflecting the most important points shared by many.' The author arrives at a six-word definition, as explained here."
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Boiling Down the Meaning of Life

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  • by bazald (886779) <bazald@zeniDEBIANpex.com minus distro> on Sunday February 12, 2012 @04:52AM (#39009963) Homepage

    Life may have many definitions but no meaning at all.

  • by epyT-R (613989) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @05:13AM (#39010009)

    because the passive aggressive culture we have today needs it in order to feel secure. it loves argumentum ad populum (among others).

  • Re:Human Life (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jappus (1177563) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @06:03AM (#39010145)

    By the way, I support abortion for the same reason I support the Death Penalty: Necessary in a practical sense, but over all pretty gross...

    That's probably raising lots of flames and will burn some karma, but I find it difficult to see practicality in the death penalty. Abortion now, at least indeed has undeniable practicality in some cases, like where the birth would simply kill the mother. It's hard to argue against that point.

    But the death penalty -- at least in its incarnation where you don't just shoot/hang/burn the first person you think is guilty -- seems awfully impractical. Compared to life imprisonment it costs the same (or sometimes even more) and has the same outcome of preventing recidivism (re-offending). But, unfortunately it does cause psychological strain on those having to dish out the penalty (that life imprisonment certainly doesn't) and prevents any sort of future moral insight in the guilty, no matter how unlikely you deem it.

    A further difference is what some victims feel, namely the warm gut feeling of satisfied murderous revenge ... which is most likely what the person who got the penalty also got at some point and is even maybe what they might have gotten the penalty for to begin with. But since the logical outcome of life and death penalty is ultimately the same anyway (death); only one with more delay than the other, you can't really say that the latter is more practical in that regard either. In both cases, they will never see freedom again or get a chance to repeat their action until they die (and if you're not religious and there's no after-life, this lack is permanent).

    As such, I see no reason how practicality could decide the question of the use of the death penalty, as it seems to me just as practical (or even a smidgeon less practical, I admit) than real life imprisonment.

    Of course, practicality and morality are two different things that need to be evaluated differently, and thus -- at least for me -- the question is a moral, and not a practical one.

  • Life is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigiTechGuy (1747636) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @10:19AM (#39010681)

    Life is a sexually transmitted disease with a 100% fatality rate.

  • Re:Human Life (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dissy (172727) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @11:36AM (#39011071)

    So you favour killing a human for no fault of theirs (abortion)

    The person you responded to already answered that (As a "no")

    When you have a person alive for a number of years, who would be able to live another many decades, if not for one medical issue going wrong...
    You have two outcomes to choose between:

    1) The baby dies, and the mother lives
    or
    2) The baby dies, and the mother dies too.

    So as the baby is already going to die, and there is nothing you can do to change that, all that's left on the table is if the mother dies or not, which you have full control over.

    Your view suggests that the mother should die, as well as the baby.
    The person you replied to suggests that the mother should live, while the baby dies.

    Only person here making the choice of killing a person is you.
    At least the GP is trying to save the one and only life that can be saved in the situation given.

    Then there is the point on the death penalty.
    As happens very frequently, it is discovered after the fact that the person originally arrested and tried for the crime turns out to be proven innocent, or another person is proven to be guilty and acting alone, which is itself proof the former person is innocent.

    When you put someone to death, as you feel should be done, you can never fix the mistake once found out. With life imprisonment you can.
    If it turns out the person is guilty after the fact, then they have been in prison all that time and will continue to be.

    So once again, you have just put every wrongfully accused person to death, despite evidence after the fact that you got the wrong person.
    The person you are responding to suggests once evidence comes to light that the one imprisoned was the wrong person, you let them go and attempt to make amends for the time stolen from their life.

    So you just put to death many innocent people that did nothing wrong, as well as killed an innocent mother.
    The person you responded to did neither of those things.

    Hmm indeed!

  • by Chemisor (97276) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @12:30PM (#39011401)

    The first law of logic is that you must know what you're talking about. Without an agreed upon definition, any use of the word "life" invalidates logical arguments containing it.

  • by subreality (157447) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @12:43PM (#39011497)

    "What is the meaning of life?"

    What is the meaning of that question? I take particular issue with "Meaning".

    Does it mean "purpose"? If so, life's purpose is defined by its creator; if there is no creator, it's purpose is self-defining; empirically, the one we've decided on is "keep reproducing until you deplete all available means to do so and/or come up with something else to do".

    Does it really mean "Meaning" as in "This means something"? A creator may have intended some meaning; if there is no creator, I'm afraid all it can mean is "Stuff can successfully self-reproduce for at least a few billion years on this particular rock". Any other meaning is entirely made up by us.

    I suppose in that sense data mining the meaning of life is as good an answer as any.

    Personally, I think "Meaning" is a worthless question, and "Purpose"... well, it's only what you make of it. Mine is to try to make this world a better place for it's inhabitants at least until we can make contact with and/or go somewhere more exciting. I accept that this may take a while.

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