Home Forums Deep Time Journey Forum Is the universe a "living system"? Reply To: Is the universe a "living system"?

Jon Cleland Host

  Sorry for not checking back sooner.   Ed wrote:

Great to see the conversation continuing…

Thanks for the great contribution to the discussion.   Your last post is very helpful.    

Philosophically then, the universe IS alive because WE are alive and we are inseparable from the universe.

  Yes.  In that way, I agree.      

So in this spirit, my suggestion (as pointed to by Jon) is to honor methodological reductionists (MR’s) for their good work – AND – to honor philosophical non-reductionists (PNR’s) for their “big view” observations and speculations which may one day prove to be scientific fact (that is, everything is integrally interconnected and therefore “alive”). So how do we honor both?

  : )  

The challenge, it seems to me, is one of language. PNR’s want to take control of the word “living” and use it to describe everything. MR’s say no, that word is reserved for a very specific phenomena (biological life) that is well differentiated. 

Yes, I agree.  

Duane, is there another word that would suitably describe the non-biological yet highly interconnected and interdependent matter of the universe without co-opting a scientific term with a much more narrow definition? Jon, is there some sort of qualifier that Duane could use in front of the word “living” that would differentiate the use of this word from the implication of biological life?

  : ).     Yes, let’s try this.  I agree with pretty much all of your post, and didn’t quote each part so as to save space.



Doubly Alive or Double Aliveness–   I like this.  It suggests two different ways of defining “alive”, which is what we are doing.

Trans-biological aliveness– I like this too.  It is very clear that we are not talking about aliveness in terms of strict biology.  

Deep Aliveness – This may be OK, but I think I prefer either of the other two, because “Deep” is often used to describe extended views of things that don’t include anything controversial.  For instance, Deep Time, or Deep Ancestry, or Deep space – all are things that the strictest scientist full agrees with as real.

Perhaps “Doubly Alive” is best because it is both clear and accurate as well as being shorter than “trans biological aliveness”?

********************************************************   Duane wrote:

Ed–   Thanks for your discerning and insightful posting! I’m excited by the possibility that, after more than 400 postings, our learning community may be discovering important common ground. I am comfortable with the summary paragraph that you wrote, Ed, and I’m wondering if this offers common ground for Jon and Mike (and others) as well.    

  Incredibly, perhaps so.  : )  

“Considering all of these arguments, here is my conclusion at this time which is the best “common ground” that I can muster. We must allow science the categories of “living organism” and “non living matter” for them to do their work. However there is also room for the “big philosophical view” of an interconnected universe where living and non-living matter (in the scientific sense) are inseparable and part of larger phenomena that we are only starting to understand.” 

  Sounds good to me!   Deep thanks!                 -Jon