Don't talk to me about life

All definitions are arbitrary.

That statement is pretty simple in its construction but extremely complex in its implementation.

All definitions - every single one - are arbitrary. This was touched on slightly in the last post, but it's something that needs repeating with emphasis.

A specific reason I bring this up is an article on physorg: Why Life Originated. It's a good question, but to ask it we must first ask: what is life?

For those who aren't aware, there isn't a consensus definition for life. As we've discussed earlier, "red" and "blue" are semantic designations based on arbitrary separation of frequencies of light; while we may not agree on where to draw the lines or what to call the separate segments, there is still a characteristic of differentiation between "red" and "blue".

Life holds no such characteristic that we can determine. In simpler terms, everything that we would say defines "life" can be found - individually or in conjunction - in what we would generally call "non-life". Ergo, we have no definition: we can draw no separation between "life" and "non-life".

The scientists in the article come to this point and then conclude that, thus, life and nonlife are synonymous: if you can't differentiate it, it's the same thing. Other people (some in the comments) argue that the distinction exists, we just don't have the tools or concepts to define it (though they put it in far less specific terms).

Rationally, the two results are the same: something you can't observe in any way, shape or form does not have any impact on your universe, so it can be considered "irrelevant" in five-sided logic (true/false/maybe/unknown/irrelevant).

It boils down to the same argument of pornography: the old "I know it when I see it" concept, which, while perhaps useful for ethical standards (which are all relative anyway), is totally absurd in rational discussions.

All definitions are arbitrary; most people just don't realize how much of their "life" is limited by arbitrary definitions.

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