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Showing posts from July, 2011

the magic of consciousness

It is as if, when you see and hear and touch and taste things, some of the magic of your phenomenal sensation is rubbing off onto the things as such. And this has the extraordinary result of making it seem to you as if the things themselves possess phenomenal qualities. As if things out there in the world have an extra dimension of subjective presence. Maybe even as if you have a private line to them, as if they are imbued with your subjectivity. - Nicholas Humphrey in  Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness

what is life?

by Tam Hunt
What is life? Is life something that, like obscenity, we know when we see it? This intuitive approach may be good enough for many people, but science seeks definitions in order to get a better handle on the phenomena being studied.

Unfortunately, every definition of life provided thus far runs into serious problems. “Grasping the nature of life is like catching a whirling eddy in a stream: the moment you have it in your hands it disappears and leaves you with the matter but not the form.” Aristotle perhaps said it best: “Nothing is true of that which is changing.” In other words, if all is in flux – as all things are – then static definitions of physical phenomena, including life, are literally impossible. This is a fundamental limitation that is too rarely acknowledged in modern science and philosophy. We may carve out generally workable definitions as rules of thumb (heuristics) for deeper study, but we must always acknowledge that any definition regarding …