Total Posts:6|Showing Posts:1-6
Jump to topic:

Ants and Planets and other Entities

Rockylightning
Posts: 2,862
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
12/16/2011 12:09:45 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Ants and Empires

Examine an ant colony. Worker ants build a hive to grow more ants. Warrior ants fend off threats. A queen ant is the head of the colony, the mother and master of all the other ants, directing their activities. Now examine a human body. Skin cells create an epidermis, stomach cells digest food, white blood cells fend off threats. Brain cells directing the controlled reproduction of other cells, as well as the actions of the body as a whole. Are these two not similar? An ant colony, as well as a human body share many of the same fundamental characteristics. They reproduce, (An ant colony branching into many different colonies, compared to sexual reproduction) they reproduce within themselves, they work in self interest, and are made up of purposeful parts. Put simply, if a cell (Bacteria) and an ant are both considered single organisms, why is a human body considered an organism and an ant colony not?

The definition for what an organism is, is much too narrow. When examined carefully, an ant colony, and any other grouping of self serving entities can be considered an organism.

Take a household for example. In the stereotypical household the husband brings in money, the wife keeps the house clean, and the kids prepare to create their own households. The money brought in by the husband can be seen as food, the cleaning can be seen as health, and the kids can be seen as reproductivity. Hence, a household can, technically, be considered an organism.

As humans, we have limited knowledge. Just as bacteria do not KNOW that they are making somebody sick, we do not KNOW what we are doing. We, just like the bacteria, can only continue surviving, reproducing, and feeding ourselves. Who knows? Maybe we are the bacteria slowly eating away at the Earth's health. Maybe the Earth is a higher being than us? Who knows? The earth, just like every other organism, has cycles. The earth has water cycles, rock cycles, wind cycles, storm, volcano, earthquake, snow, drought, heat, cold cycles. So why can the Earth not be considered an organism? By extension, why cannot the whole galaxy, or universe be a part of a larger organism that we are unaware of?

This also brings up the question, are machines such as computers, organisms? Sure they rely on electricity and circuit boards, and we rely on water and blood and brain cells! Are computers conscious on some level? Most likely, as you and I and a dog, cat, ant, clam are conscious to some degree, a computer must surely be aware to some extent. Maybe not of light, sound, etc, but of programs, viruses, and cds, of the simple awareness of ON or OFF?

Yes. Though the size of the thinking platform determines the degree, all organisms are conscious to some extent. The household for example, is not actively thinking, obviously because it has no platform for thought. But by the law of evolution this household has developed cycles to survive. A dysfunctional household is unlikely to last long. The same goes for a planet, if a planet will blow itself up immediately after creation, it won't stay in the "pool" for long. A planet that has defense shielding from radiation and asteroids will however sustain itself.

All of these entities have self-interest in "mind". And that is what ultimately defines what an organism is.

What do you think?
belle
Posts: 4,113
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
12/16/2011 9:10:11 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
all human cells are genetically identical and can't live independently of the body unless extraordinary measures are taken (ie manipulating the genetic expression patterns of the cell substantially). even though not all ants reproduce, each ant is genetically unique. their nervous systems function independently. while there is a sense in which an an colony can be considered a whole rather than a collection of individuals, i don't think this wholeness is cohesive enough biologically to merit the term "organism". and i don't think it decreases our understanding of the situation to use a different term. in science words need to have fairly precise meanings, even those that are notoriously difficult to define such as life... we know things that definately are alive and definately aren't, but there are borderline cases that are confusing (mimivirus? hehe). i think the same goes for "organism"- it may be hard to define precisely but intuitively it seems that the degree of cohesiveness required is greater than that found in a collection of individuals in an ant colony or a household. the pieces making up these wholes have too much independence to be considered simply part of a larger organism. of course, this whole thing is semantic. but i think if we started using organism the way you propose, clarity would be lost overall.
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
Greyparrot
Posts: 14,325
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
12/16/2011 9:33:03 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Just the fact that many humans enjoy giving characteristics to a rock in space through anthropomorphism should raise a flag that you probably should do a serious reality check every day you wake up in the morning, Buddha style.

Otherwise you may end up creating Gods out of rocks.
SuperRobotWars
Posts: 3,906
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
12/18/2011 12:08:16 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 12/16/2011 9:33:03 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
Just the fact that many humans enjoy giving characteristics to a rock in space through anthropomorphism should raise a flag that you probably should do a serious reality check every day you wake up in the morning, Buddha style.

Otherwise you may end up creating Gods out of rocks.

My god was a rock once.
Minister Of Trolling
: At 12/6/2011 2:21:41 PM, badger wrote:
: ugly people should beat beautiful people ugly. simple! you'd be killing two birds with the one stone... women like violent men and you're making yourself more attractive, relatively. i met a blonde dude who was prettier than me not so long ago. he's not so pretty now! ha!
:
: ...and well, he wasn't really prettier than me. he just had nice hair.