Possible Support For Panpsychism
Is everything alive?
We initiate our "life" definition through comparison with self, and then, as a result, we have trouble defining what is not alive.
I guess we have been trying to realize the world in terms of “dead” and “alive” since the first poking of a thing that recently died, but why is the question of defining what is and isn’t alive so problematic?
When we arrive at a characteristic that seems to separate living from the non-living, we find many examples of that characteristic amongst the non-living too, if we but slightly shift our anthropic perspective.
Today’s lecture (Tuesday 29/4/14) seemed to highlight the depth of this for me.
When replication of a thing occurs, (for now, let’s exclude sexual reproduction as an irregularity) the thing duplicates itself, and a copy of the same thing arises. It seems necessary for the “parent” and the “offspring” (as Hume would have it) to be both present at any one point in time. That aside for just a moment, how else is replication different from non-replication across time?:
At time T1 a thing is shown to exist. At a later time, T2, an identical copy of the thing exists. A previous version of the thing at T1 “gave rise” to the thing at T2, otherwise it would not exist – or to put it another way, it was the existence of that thing at T1 that was required so that the thing didn’t just pop into existence without cause at T2.
This description is true for both a thing that replicated and then died/deconstructed, and a thing that did not replicate at all, but did not die/deconstruct.
Both would be slightly different at time T2 from what was present at T1. Neither can be said to be exactly identical not only because spacetime has changed, but also because everything is constantly in a process of change. We grow (old!), things erode and wear out, molecules react, and electrons change position. The old “we never step in the same river twice” idea.
Replication does seem to require that parent and child both be present at the point in time of replication and possibly afterwards too. Yet if we cannot say that the replication is identical, can we say that we have replication at all?
The parent and child, who do not occupy the same space and time concurrently, are two changing things that do not co-exist as identical things. No replication in life (or even in reality) offers the impossibility of true replication. Our notion of replication is really just a version of production - producing something new.
And this occurs in things alive and inanimate.
In this way perhaps all of matter is alive as a kind of constant flourishing of newness.
So all of matter is "evolving" (i use the term loosely here) to best suit its new location in spacetime as best it can.
Is it plausible that the whole of existence has equal entitlement to qualify for being alive and evolving under these terms?
What do you think? Is it valid, sound or profitable to consider things in this way?