That's what's a tad frustrating: After a few revisions of my use of language, I ascribed practically no special significance to life; it should naturally emerge simply due to the laws of thermodynamics and the fact that photons knock things about. If I had really wanted to ascribe a pre-determined purpose, I wouldn't have rephrased the question. However though, I still can't see why it's problematic to draw a distinction between living and non-living systems. There is a distinction, on many scales, and that really has nothing to do with ascribing any sort of pre-determined purpose; I thought that we got over that stumbling block almost a week ago, but I see that I am wrong about that. So, I'm perfectly fine with the notion that living matter is just a bunch of little machines, but I'm not fine at all with the notion that dirt is also bunch of little machines in precisely the same sense. For one, these little machines denote regular, cyclical action, and dirt isn't really like that. Surely this is not just a psychological distinction.
While I agree with the notion of conservation of energy (at scales much less than cosmological, anyway), I can't agree with any kind of strict assertion that dS/dt = 0 for living matter, and dS/dt >= 0 for non-living matter, especially since the distinction between living and non-living matter is being ignored in the first place. To be sure, dS = dQ/T is guaranteed to be greater than 0, what with most living matter giving off heat to their environment most of the time, and with their environments having non-infinite temperature by default; surely we've all felt cold once or twice, and surely we've all generated some heat from the binding energy found in the microscopic components of our food rather than from the free photons impinging our skin.
As for "reasons for living", I've read enough existential philosophy to know that "God is dead, and you're the only one who can form your own personal substitute". I most often go to my family and friends and the forest to look for this substitute, not to strangers on the Internet (though trying to participate on gamedev.net here and there is pretty damn fun, I have to admit, and so would a lot of people, I assume, so I'm not exactly being singular here). This is what's also a little frustrationg: I've also pointed this out a handful of times now. So what's with all the striving to assert things contrary to what's already been said? Is that intentional? I'm not sure either way (although I'm leading toward doubt, because people here are generally decent), and until I know for sure (which is likely never), I won't take it personally. I think it is worth noting at this point in time that I specifically opened this thread with the notion that I'd like to look deeper than philosophy and biology, and go into the raw physics of it all. This fixation on the philosophy and biology was not mine. Perhaps if I had gone about vehemently stomping out any mention of religion by those people here who initially brought it up (ie: not I) instead of just effectively letting it slide with minimal friction, I'd have set a different, more "respectable" tone. So, personally, I think that the notion of any kind of afterlife is equivalent to the notion of induction into incarceration via rites of slave labour. I also think that most religions' concept of morality with regard to suicide is impractical; it often serves to force the death drive to manifest itself as the external phenomena known as murder and war. And yet, even though I think that most religions are incorrect interpretations of reality, do I entirely dismiss the possibility that the universe was created? No. Anyone subscribing to a different point of view is welcome to open a different thread in order to discuss it, because it's not really the focus here. Anyway, regardless of what anyone may think, I am deeply grateful for the conversation given in this thread, and I've made a note of that multiple times.
If it at all helps clear up any further mystery with regard to my mode of operation: I'm trying to kill the legacy of Lacan in order to clear up some loose ends on a novel in progress (yes, I realize that I am in desperate need of an editor), not kill myself.
FWIW, I think it's pretty ironic and comical (in the sense that I'm laughing at my own self) that most of the frustration seen here likely stems from the repetitious (non-distinct) communications. Perhaps, later, after some more self-reflection, I'll end up taking that as an indication of some kind of inherent desire to increase entropy (ie. S = ln(1) = 0 = frustrating).
Edited by taby, 18 July 2012 - 11:20 AM.