X-Message-Number: 1069
From:  (Timothy Freeman)
Newsgroups: sci.cryonics
Subject: Re: The "Life Force" Argument
Message-ID: <>
Date: 27 Jul 92 22:16:21 GMT
References: <>

Charles Platt <> writes via kqb:

   They have a very strong 
   gut feeling that life cannot be as mechanistic as this. There 
   is a "life force" involved; not necessarily a spirit or a 
   soul, but something that cannot be explained so easily. 

Well, I've never successfully countered ideas about the life force, or
souls, or other frobby features of a world model that Occam's razor
would chop off if given the chance, but an approach did come to mind:

1. Admit that the evidence does not yet compel the materialist view.
(You admitted that in your post.)

2. Try to establish that the evidence does not yet compel the
life-force model either.

(Since the evidence doesn't compel either belief, we've left the field
of philosophy, and now we can move on to psychology.)

3. Ask "if you could either be a materialist or you could believe in
the life force, which would you do, and why?"  They will say they
would rather believe in the life force, but I can't guess why.  If
they believably say why, I'd really like to know what they said.

If I ask myself question #3, the answer I get is "I would rather be a
materialist, because I want to eventually achieve understanding and
control of things that are important to me (such as the continued
functioning of my mind and body).  If I believe that an important part
of how I work depends on a soul or the life-force, then I won't be
able to understand and control that part."  Are there materialists out
there with a different answer?

There are probably some people reading this who believe in souls or
the life force or something like that.  Maybe they can dispute point
#2 or answer question #3.

These questions are relevant to cryonics, but not to a sci. group.  I
argued against putting the cryonics group in the sci hierarchy back
when we were having the discussion.  Oh well.
Tim Freeman <>    CompuServe ID 71045,2267 checked occasionally.
When they took the fourth amendment, I was silent because I don't deal drugs.
When they took the sixth amendment, I kept quiet because I know I'm innocent.
When they took the second amendment, I said nothing because I don't own a gun.
Now they've come for the first amendment, and I can't say anything at all.

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