the independent pulse

Life

The word life can mean so many things. Most scientists can agree on some basics of what life is physically, however, all living beings experience existence differently. All living systems have an environment that can make or break their existence.
New life

If there is such a thing as a life force, and dying can come at any moment, then it should be our number one duty to try to understand what life is, and what it means to be alive.

Life is beautiful, just live it.
Life is beautiful, just live it.

life: noun

  1. the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
  2. the existence of an individual human being or animal.

How We Think of Life

The first example of how hard it is to explain life and existence will be taken from two great philosophers who have shaped the way that we think about life and existence today.

Plato, a Greek philosopher in Classical Athens, brought to the table the idea that “life is nothing but the process of breathing.” The vital principle responsible for this was unexplainable by natural laws.

Aristotle, Plato’s mentor and teacher who gave birth to what has been called western philosophy, had a different take on life. He believed that “life was not breath but it is the outcome of breath.” In his opinion, the vital principle responsible for this outcome could be explained through natural laws.

These word games, a story of semantics, and a play on words really shows the period from which these men came.

Plato’s Perspective on Life

Plato’s perspective on life makes the most sense because he talks about the vital principle; the thing responsible for breath (or movement). Without this, there would be no life.

Aristotle’s Perspective on Life

While Aristotle had some very interesting concepts about nature, it is almost impossible for him to have known anything close to the truth about what makes us live. He was around when many people believed that things like earthquakes or wind were signs of gods at work.

Animate, Inanimate, and Organic Matter

In English, (old english līf) there are three words used to describe anything that has life: animate, inanimate and organic. Really millions of concepts can be used to describe life, but these three help the most.

The first refers to something having the chemistry of carbon, especially of or relating to life. The second definition is referring to something that is related organically; closely connected by kinship, friendship, or other ties.

Animate means to be endowed with the power of motion; capable of spontaneous action.

Inanimate is the opposite of an animate – incapable of or lacking in motion and sensation.

Organic is a more confusing term because there are two very different definitions.

Inanimate Matter

Inanimate matter can be easily defined as objects that do not have life. There is no hard and fast rule to tell if something is inanimate or animate, but there are characteristics of things we know to be alive: growth and decay, adaptation and response, spontaneous motion, and deliberate motion. A rock cannot grow and does not respond or adapt to its environment, so it is considered inanimate.

Animate Matter

With animate matter, the word that comes to mind is life. Life has many different characteristics, but what all living beings have in common is metabolism.

Metabolism means two chemical reactions happening at the same time which are both of value to the organism.

One reaction takes care of maintaining its internal order and the other takes care of breaking down food. Energy is also a must. Without energy, no living animal or organism can exist for very long.

Moving around is very important as well because it allows an organism to feed itself and it protects it from harm that can come from its surroundings or other organisms.

The last characteristic is reproduction – all living beings produce new individuals of their species.

Reproduction

All living organisms reproduce in some way or another.

In order to reproduce, a life form must survive long enough to find a mate and start the process. In many cases, this means that they continue living even if their mate does not pick them up for whatever reason.

Reproduction occurs when a female releases her eggs and they are fertilized by the male. Depending on the species, some creatures might even leave after mating or just while still in reproductive mode.

Organic Matter

Organics are a more complicated term to define because they can refer to living things or non-living things. Biological life fits under this definition, so any living being would be considered organic.

However, anything that is made up of carbon atoms can also be called organic – like oil or plastic – because carbon is one of the most important building blocks for life.

Tree of life
Tree of life

Phases of Life

While some people believe that life is a circle, another person may believe it follows an S-curve or has even more stages than that. One modern view on the topic of life involves three phases: pre-life phase, chemical reaction phase, and biological phase.

Pre-Life Phase

The pre-life phase is the mineral world, which includes rocks and crystals. However, there are some very important chemicals that can be found in nature without living things too. Water is a great example of this because it is one of the most vital ingredients for life on Earth yet it can exist completely on its own with no assistance from other types of organisms.

Chemical Reaction Phase

Now that we know what life is not, it is time to look into the chemical reaction phase because that is when something becomes alive. The way this works can vary depending on who you ask. Scientists believe that life begins when two things come together; water and carbon dioxide molecules combine to form a sugar called glucose. Another theory is that water and metal ions bond to create the first amino acids, which are necessary for life.

Biological Phase

The biological phase starts when carbon dioxide and water come together to form organic molecules. These molecules then join into chains of more complex sugars, proteins or nucleic acids (DNA or RNA). These molecules are the building blocks of life.

Types of Life

There are many different types of life, but biologists generally divide them into two groups: eukaryotic and prokaryotic.

Eukaryotes have cells with nuclei surrounded by membranes, whereas prokaryotes do not, or they have very thin cell walls. The main thing that sets them apart is the structure of their cells.

Life Growth

While we live we grow, even after we physically start to shrink. While we are alive, our ability to grow does not stop until the moment we die.

Not only is this true for animals, but also for plants. You could say that they experience growth when their leaves and stems stretch out to absorb sunlight or when their roots go down deeper into the soil to find water.

People’s lives have only gained benefit from growth. As we’ve grown we’ve learned more about science, technology, and medicine. We have found new ways to heal ourselves and prevent disease and injury. We have also lost thousands of lives in the pursuit of power.

Social Life

One may say they have a social life or a personal life, but what people are really talking about is the difference between their inner and outer worlds.

The outer world refers to all of our experiences with other people while the inner world is where we act out fantasies in our heads or think about things that happened in the past.

Caring for Life

All living beings need some sort of care to survive, and since we all do this in different ways we can conclude that caring for life is not a universal law.

For example, some people love dogs so much they’d take their dog to the vet if it got hurt while other people think hunting and fishing are cruel so they don’t eat meat. Regardless of your reason, there is no denying that all living creatures need the care to live.

A Living Model

What is the closest person one can get to having another organism? There are some scientists who might say that their fellow scientist in the lab is the most alive person they know. However, most people would probably disagree with this statement because it sounds bizarre even though it may be true.

A virus is a better candidate for being viewed as living because it has all the characteristics of life. It has a cell membrane that can protect it, move around to feed itself, reproduce, and act as if it is trying to stay alive. Although viruses cannot grow, they are able to change slightly so that they can out-compete other organisms for resources.

Life Force

Life’s force is unknown. Whether it’s a fundamental particle or an energy wave, we can’t begin to guess what it is. There may be life on other planets, but even if there are beings like us (or better), they wouldn’t experience life the same way we do; not unless their body functions were very similar to ours.

The Life Cycle

Life includes passing on genetic information (the source of life continuing through the next generation), growth and development, and aging/mortality. There is also likely something that explains how the end of life occurs during the life cycle.

The real question may not be whether we are alone in the universe, but if we can survive long enough to find out. Aristotle would argue that we can’t because we are constantly breaking nature’s rules to do what we want. It is our lives that prove this wrong, however, and if there is life somewhere else it will be up to them to prove what works for them might not work for us.

Life Cycles

There are many different kinds of cycles: the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the rock cycle… but there is only one life cycle – a living thing, born from another living thing, will eventually die and return to where it came from. This is one of those cycles that we as humans seem to enjoy breaking; we try to extend our own lives as well as those who are close to us.

As far as we can tell, a living thing will have a limited number of heartbeats, breaths, and days. No matter how hard we try to fight this fact, all that anyone can do is delay it. By the time someone has accepted the inevitable they have already lived longer than they ever should have been able to.

Souls

As for souls, most people think of them as something you either have or don’t have, and spiritual in nature. If there is such thing as a soul, it is possible that it lives in the afterlife.

However, not everyone has had the same experiences with life so even if a soul exists, there’s no reason to assume that a person will retain it once they no longer have their life.

It just doesn’t seem fair that a frog’s soul, for instance, would die with the rest of it. On the other hand, does the living being deserve to keep its soul or should the soul be set free with no owner?

Life Forms

Since we don’t know what life is, we can’t assume what other forms it might take. Life can take many forms.

The only things we are sure of are the life forces that have been discovered so far. These do not include plants or creatures without brains, although some people will argue that these should be included in the list along with everything else.

There might also be something special about humans, but if there is it’s hard to find evidence of it. In fact, if we were to expand on the definition of life, artificial life should likely be included. Without intelligence, life would be nothing but an extremely complicated chemical reaction.

If people are lucky enough to have found intelligence then they should enjoy it while it lasts because there is no guarantee that it will last forever.

Expected Life Span

The average life span of humans is about 80 years of age. How will you live your life. Will you enjoy your existence no matter what the characters in your life play out? Will you suggest your time should be spent doing impossible things? Will you create a meaningful story for your children to tell

A Living Matter

It seems as if all things that hold life are doomed from the start because even at our with all modern science, people’s lives will eventually end.

This doesn’t mean that living is any less amazing… life would be very long and nonsensical if life never ended. In fact, if you lived your whole life never knowing you were going to die, then what would motivate you to do anything.

Life Functions

What do we do as life forms? And why do we ponder this our whole life? We have lost thousands of years wondering whether we were made for more than just this. We have studied the nature of life using animals and plants, and still, we feel that there is more out there than what we know of.

The thing about life is that we don’t really know what it’s all about until we die. Some people will say they know exactly what life is, but they are just fooling themselves because they have never experienced dying.

Living Processes (Living Model)

Life is a term that can be applied to everything that is living. It doesn’t refer to every single thing in the universe, but it does include them all. The reason we can’t agree on what life is and why it exists is that we haven’t discovered everything in the universe yet.

If there is such a thing as a finite lifetime, and every living thing must die at one point, then it can be assumed that life doesn’t really have a purpose. This is all just speculation though because we have no idea what happens after our life is over.

Alternate Theories

There are some people who say that there is no such thing as a soul. They think only of life as biological. It would be unfair to say that humans are special when it comes to life, and it’s also unfair to say that they are not special because everyone has a different experience of the phenomenon.

If we have to study life from a scientific standpoint, then maybe we will never know what it is really all about until we die. If there is something beyond death though, then it would be worth knowing what life’s purpose really is.

Extraterrestrial Life

People have seen UFOs and believe that aliens are among us, this is possible since we don’t know everything about the universe. One of the great mysteries of life is whether or not we are alone. If we are alone then some of our accepted beliefs are easy to understand. If we are not, then there are many many things that still need to be explained.

What we know now is that for all life there is an equal end of life that occurs. Whether it is a human, frog, or star there will one day be an end to its existence. This is most likely because everything has a cycle that it is completing. A process that must be finished.

Life on Other Planets

The best way to find out whether life exists somewhere besides Earth is to start looking for it. If we can’t even agree on the very basics of what life is then we won’t know whether we’ve really found it or not, but at least we will have eliminated that possibility and started in the right direction.

If there is nothing special about humans, and all intelligent beings deserve souls just as much as we do, then maybe one day we will finally get to the bottom of this mystery.

Just like the search for God, which may mean so much more than we have written findings for, life may expand beyond the limits of what we know. We may never experience the fullness of life for ourselves, but it can be said with certainty that there is no life without dying.

Whole Life Sentence

The truth might be surprising because if there is no afterlife, then it makes dying a lot harder to understand. Some people live their whole lives without understanding what life means until they die. It can be said that life and death are equally as important.

The Aspect of Plural Lives

A plurality of lives is an interesting concept that could be studied theoretically. There are some who say they have experienced more than one life, and it’s not just because of reincarnation. It seems as if there are some people who remember what it was like to live in other eras, but how can this be possible?

Plural lives? One Life? Eternal Existence (No Social Life)

There isn’t any evidence for the subject, and people will always be skeptical about it. Some go as far as to say that life never ends, and we are all living in some kind of simulation. It is believed that this would be more beneficial than real life because we could experience many things without the consequence of dying.

Existence is a living matter. Why exactly is it so hard for humans to understand what life means? This might be the most important thing to study, and maybe one day we will discover what it really is.

Lost Time Spent Playing Politics

Politics have distracted people from the true meaning of life. Many people spend their whole lives trying to get themselves into powerful positions, and they don’t realize how much time has gone by. They might have missed out on some wonderful things in life because they were too busy trying to make a living.

The thing about playing politics is that power can go to anyone’s head, and it certainly has done this to many who play the game.

If life is something special then all creatures must be given a fair chance to experience it before they go back where they came from. If there isn’t anything special about them though, then maybe they don’t deserve to keep their life forces.

It seems like this huge mystery of existence only has one solution: we know so little about life that it doesn’t really matter where you come from or what form your life takes, as long as you experience the fullness of living before you die.

That’s why we should welcome anyone and anything that wants to experience life as we do, living organisms human and otherwise.

Life is such a personal thing for humans that it’s hard to understand what it can mean to others. All we know for sure is that so far is that we have all lived and we have all lost. Our growth as living systems should be a public service to our life class.

Science

If life can start out via a simple chemical reaction then it stands to reason that it could occur almost anywhere, even in other galaxies. On the flip side, if our intelligence makes us different then finding an alien with a soul wouldn’t be all that surprising either.

Life would still be special in some way if our intelligence is the only thing that sets us apart, but it might also be special to show this difference with something physical instead of just an unexplainable essence.

Organisms

Every form of new life is composed of the same chemicals, but each person’s intelligence would make him or her unique enough to be considered conscious. They might even be able to interact with each other using chemical signals instead of just instincts like most creatures do.

One life reality is that we are made up of exactly the same things and it’s our life forces that set us apart, kind of like souls. If that’s the case, then it would be safe to say that if we can’t see or detect something then it has no impact on our lives, including life forces. As for whether or not they are physical, who knows?

All things considered, life is what separates living organisms from non-living organisms.

Lifetime

If nothing else though, your expected life span can mean something different for everyone. We don’t all experience death in the same way even if we do understand that it’s inevitable. Even different animals don’t experience death the same way.

Until then all we can do is keep searching for a purpose and a meaning in life because, if there is no higher power to thank for our existence, there has to be something out there making all this happen.

Planets like Earth can’t exist forever; eventually, they will die and take down any life that might have existed on them. All lives on earth will eventually become extinct. All organisms will cease to exist one day.

Public Service

“Life” refers to an organism’s complexity and ability to change itself (physically or mentally). Most biologists say that life plays a role in the public sphere. For example, the CEO of a corporation would be considered “alive” because he or she can take part in society.

Science is almost universally believed to have an effect on the public sphere. We use science to learn more about ourselves and our environment which makes it relevant to any global discussion of life.

Knowledge is believed to play an important role in the public sphere.

Life can mean so many different things to different people, but science is almost unanimously believed to have a large impact on the public sphere. All of life helps to make up its respective environments which makes life an integral part of any discussion of the public sphere.

Finally, knowledge plays a unique role in the public sphere because we can use it to learn about ourselves and our surroundings which helps us understand life even better.

Background: The Public Sphere is a term for “areas of society where people can come together as equals and freely discuss matters of public concern.” These areas include politics, religion, education, the media/arts/entertain

Life Cycles

The fact is that just about everything in nature has a life cycle, from the smallest living organism to the largest asteroid in space. Each living thing goes through a process to grow and develop until it reaches a certain point of stability, which some call adulthood. At this point the organism has reached its prime and can live relatively happily until it starts to die off. This is part of a natural cycle of life known as senescence.

To be specific, senescence isn’t really necessary to the definition of life because many things don’t even go through senescence. Some might never die at all or have a life cycle that isn’t always continuous but follows cycles of death and rebirth over the centuries instead.

In any case, what is considered death? Even in societies where suicides are taboo people often still think about killing themselves for various reasons. In many cases, they don’t want to leave this world before they have fulfilled their individual purposes.

It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are about an afterlife or a higher power, but it’s evident that all life eventually dies—there is no escaping that fact.

Life and Death Cycles: Almost everything in nature has a life cycle of growing and developing until “adulthood” when it can live relatively happily until dying off.

Death: Death is not necessarily a part of the definition of life because numerous things don’t go through senescence or have continuous, non-cyclical life cycles.

Purpose and Meaning in Life

Even if there is no agreed-upon meaning to all of this, it’s still not enough for some people to justify the fact that they exist. They need to know why they exist and what their purpose is in life.

In a sense, every person has a unique purpose because we’re all very different from each other even if we do share quite a few things in common. If there was a word that could describe the exact purpose of every individual on this Earth, then we would have probably already known it by now.

The search for a “true” meaning to life is a rather arduous quest because how do you know when you’ve found the right answer? For some people, it’s enough to just experience life and see what happens.

For most of us, however, our greatest fear when we die is the fact that we won’t get to say goodbye to the people we care about. We also won’t have a chance to sit back and think about what our lives meant.

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