X-Message-Number: 1064
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 92 20:49:23 PDT
Subject: Re: cryonics: #1061

> From whscad1.att.com! Mon Jul 27 19:21:09 1992
> From: Charles Platt <>
> Message-Subject: Cryonet
> To Cryonet/Sci.Cryonics 
>          How Do We Tackle the "Life Force" Argument? 
>          -------------------------------------------
> >From [Charle's wife's and literary agent's] perspective, a victim 
> of cold-water drowning who 
> is restored to life never really lost that "life force" and 
> therefore was not really dead. Conversely, it is impossible 
> for them to believe that the life force would survive in a 
> detached head immersed in liquid nitrogen, especially bearing 
> in mind the damage that results from freezing. Therefore, as 
> far as they are concerned, cryonics cannot work. 

Note the contradictory assumptions:  In the case of the drowning
victim, the assumption is made that the "life force" is an
independendent variable (a cause), and life is an effect thereof (the
presence of the life force caused the revival of the patient).  In the
case of the cryonics patient, the assumption is made that the physical
state of the life form is the independent variable (the damage to the
patient determined the presence of the life force), and the life force
is merely an effect of the physical state of the organism.

So which is it?  Does the physical state of the patient determine the
presence or absence of the life force? Or, does the presence or absence
of the life force determine the physical state of the patient?

If the molecular structure of a living man were to be scrambled one
molecule at a time, precisely when would the "life force" be
irrevocably departed?  How can this be known?  Why not assume the

Also, why is it assumed that once the life force "is gone" (whatever
that means), that it can never come back?  There is no proof of that,
nor any compelling reason to think so.  In fact, most mystics believe
that the "life force" (usually called the soul) survives the "death" of
the physical organism.  If so, then it should "return" for the same
reasons that it "came" when the organism first developed in the womb.
If the initiation of physical life processes were sufficient to attract
a life force or soul once, then it should be so again.

> I now realize, however, that my view is a minority view. I 
> think my wife and my literary agent speak for the vast 
> majority of people in the world, who have a sense of wonder 
> about life and feel that the mechanistic approach is a kind 
> of insult to it. 
> Unfortunately, many cryonicists tend to dismiss that outlook 
> too casually. They forget that our mechanistic view is itself 
> an article of faith. We cannot *prove* the nonexistence of a 
> soul, a spirit, or a life force. We can only say there isn't 
> any evidence for it. But "absence of evidence is not evidence 
> of absence"! In other words, if we are open minded, we have 
> to admit that people with a spiritual outlook *could still be 
> right.* 

True, but irrelevant.  The mechanisitic outlook does not depend on the
non-existence of a soul, a spirit, or a life force.  It depends only on
the fact that the physical mechanisms of biological life are causative of
life and consciousness, and that life is therefore not an effect of some
non-mechanistic mystical uber-reality.

The "life force," if there is one, survives freezing when the human
that is being frozen is an embryo.  Why would an embryo's "life force"
survive this process, but not an adult human's?  Similarly, many other
animals survive freezing with their life force intact.  The difference
between those who do and those who do not is simply a matter of tissue
complexity and native biochemistry (such as natural antifreeze

The existence of a "life force" is not the issue.  Even if there is
such a thing, the evidence is clear that death (and consciousness)
depend solely on chemistry.  Clearly, we do not observe "life force"
imposing life where the underlying chemistry does not permit it, nor do
we observe "life force" preserving life and/or consciousness when the
biochemical processes on which they depend are disrupted.  Revival only
occurs when the appropriate physical changes are accomplished.

Death can always be imposed by sufficiently inhibiting the physical
mechanisms of life.  The status of an organism (whether it is alive or
dead) can always be accurately predicted/determined by examining the
state of its physical mechanisms.  Consciousness and life have always
been observed to end when their enabling physical mechanisms are
interdicted, and they have always been observed to resume when those
mechanisms are repaired. Thus we prove cause and effect; the logic is
relentless and compelling.

So if a "life force" exists, it is merely an **effect** of the physical
process that we call life, not a cause.  Therefore, if the cause of
life (the biochemical process) is reinstated, all the consequential
effects will also necessarily be reinstated, including the "life force"
(if it exists).

 (Alan Lovejoy)

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