My thoughts...

Well this is just a sort of train of thought I stumpled upon. To be honest I don’ like where it’s going, but I took the ride anyways :smiley: . Recently on the boards the discusstion of the difinition of life came up. While I don’t claim this as a definition I believe that one aspect (perhaps the most important) is the ability to desire. If we define desire in the classic sense, a movement towards something, we can see that indeed all living creatures do this, even if it’s just on an unconcious instinctual kind of level. Being the practical person I am I thought to myself now that I have an aspect of life, how can I go about testing things to see if their alive, in other words how can I test an object for desire? I figured if desire is a movement towards something, then why not try stopping that movement, or somehow opposing the entities’s desire. It seems to me that if I took steps to block the entitie’s desire, and it struggled against my opposistion, that is, it insisted on moving towards the object, then it must desire said object and therefore be alive. For example say I wanted to test weither a dog is alive. I must first make a guess at something this dog might desire, let’s say food. Then to test for the desire I must oppose his movement by denying him access to food (btw this is horriably unethical and I’d never do such a thing) if he then goes out of his way either by sneaking around searching for scraps or, if it’s a big dog, trying to attack me, then he must desire food, and he must be alive. Now here is where the trouble kicks in. If we say that desire is characteristic of life and desire is a movement towards something, then a movement towards something is characteristic of life. If we allow that if one has desires they must be in a state of discontent and therefore conflict, either interior or exterior(kinda common sense but I can elaborate if asked) then we get to the conclusion which I hate to reach, that discontent and conflict are an inherent (and constant) characteristic of life… god I hope I’m wrong.

Hate replying to myself but just trying to poke holes in my own statement. It seems to me that perhaps my theory only states that desire implies life, not nessicarly that life implies desire. That is it is at least logiclly possiable to imagine a living creature without desire… I think.

Hmm… what if the dog just turned around and walked off, without paying the food any attention? Would the dog then be considered not alive?

How about plants that cannot move one way or another to indicate a desire… (well maybe plants don’t desire anything, would that automatically mean plants are not living things?)
What about a human in a vegatative state, who cannot move to indicate desire (or who’s state may preclude any desires) are they to be considered as not living?

Maybe Desire is not the defining characteristic of life, but is an important function that results from life( at least for most life as we presume it to be).

If the dog after being starved for a few days simply walked off and refused to eat… first this isn’t likely to happen… if it did, I could simply claim that the dog doesn’t desire food, but perhaps something else, then I would have to do the whole test over with water or something.

Plants most certainly indicate desire, mind you not in a concious way. If you put a box with just a small hole over a plant it will automaticlly turn and bend itself towards the sunlight. I’ve also seen picture of trees with cars stuck right in the middle of them, and yet the tree simply grew around it.

Now the human in a vegatative state… that’s a hard one, and where my theory might fall apart… only thing I can offer (and even I consider it a stretch) is that while the person is incapable of making gestures or obvious movements… the pysical body does change to indicate that it wants something (hmm new theory just popped in my head, change as an indication of desire… another time) thus while admitedly no obvious movement is made there are subtle things that attempt to insist on survival (our most basic desire) for example the blood rushing to the head to keep the brain alive.

BTW I’m starting to agree with my first reply and your idea that desire may imply life but it does not determine it.