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Passions in Poetry

Meaning of Life

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stacylynn418
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0 posted 07-07-2009 06:25 PM       View Profile for stacylynn418   Email stacylynn418   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for stacylynn418

"In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted shortcuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try to live so that our death brings no pleasure to the world."
-East of Eden
by John Steinbeck
(amazing book)

I truly, whole-heartedly believe that life is all about love. Love is the one thing that we all want, and is, in the end, all that matters

A life means nothing after death unless you were loved. I think that we all realize that at some point.

A man can be successful, have the house he thinks he should want...the car...the money...the THINGS. He worked hard for it all. He is probably very proud. He has gained respect, and mistook it for love; gained success, and mistook it for happiness. As he lays dying, do you still think that he feels at all successful? If you were not loved, your death doesnt MEAN anything to anyone...and if your death means nothing, then your life becomes meaningless as well. I believe that even the most cold-hearted person feels at least a little bit sad and afraid when they realize that they're about to die all alone.

So love. Love with all of your heart, and let others love YOU. When faced with a choice, always follow your heart. And when measuring the worth of your life, consider only your happiness and relationships with others around you.

~Stacy
Huan Yi
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1 posted 07-08-2009 04:29 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Learn first to love yourself
or else how can you love another.


.
Bob K
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2 posted 07-09-2009 01:08 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Huan Yi,

          Kids tend to learn love by being loved.  Not perfectly, simply well enough to do the job.

     It's very hard to learn how to love yourself if you've never had the experience of being loved by other folks in a reasonably solid way.  You may be able to get another shot at redressing some of the flaws from the first time around when you hit about age 12-14 and begin to experience some authentic love from friends outside the home.

     First learn how to love yourself is sort of pull yourself up by your bootstraps philosophy.  Sounds great; but the physics is all wrong.  You need somebody else there to help.

     The Marine Corps is a great learning of a sort of love experience, especially for a lot of men.  They may have had squat when they went it, but the Corps teaches them an important sort of love, with solid values. that a lot of them never before experienced in their lives.  It's so important that they're willing to die for the Corps, for other Marines, for their country when, before they got into the Corps, these values may not have been so important to them.

    These marines don't teach themselves these values.  They need to learn them from other marines.

     This is a very tough but very real kind of love.

     If you're interested in the effect of the effect of poisonous sorts of love on kids growing up, there's a very well written book that's well written enough for lay-men to read yet substantial enough for some level of professional insight, should any be desired called  Understanding The Borderline Mother by Christine Ann Lawson.  If you give it a read, you'll get something of an idea about the notion of first learning to love yourself being perhaps an oversimplification.

     At a minimum, it will begin to make many people you've known much more understandable and sympathetic to you.

     Alison hates lumpy oatmeal.

     I get uncomfortable when I hear advice like the business about learning to love yourself first.  If somebody knew how to do that, they would have done it already.  Lumpy advice.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven

    
Bob K
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3 posted 07-09-2009 01:15 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     In defense of Huan Yi's comment, there is a vast difference that Huan Yi is attempting to bridge with as much wisdom and kindness as he can, which is considerable.  My earlier posting should have focused more on that and less on less relevant issues.  The lumpiness was mostly my own.

Bob Kaven
moonbeam
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4 posted 07-09-2009 02:35 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

But what is love, Stacy?
moonbeam
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5 posted 07-09-2009 06:04 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Let me not to the marriage of true minds (Sonnet CXVI)

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-- William Shakespeare
Essorant
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6 posted 07-12-2009 01:18 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Come on, are you forgetting that many other things beyond humans have life?  Many trees and forms of bacteria live much longer than humans, probably because their life is not about love  
moonbeam
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7 posted 07-12-2009 05:06 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

But what is life, Ess?
Essorant
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8 posted 07-12-2009 12:57 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Life is the condition of being a complex compound (or a body) that grows and multiplies by absorbing things in various ways (eating, drinking, breathing etc),
moonbeam
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9 posted 07-12-2009 06:29 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Yes well, sure Ess if you limit yourself to a biological definition you have a point, but I don't think that was the narrow definition of life that Stacy had in mind (whether she knew it or not ).
Essorant
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10 posted 07-12-2009 06:52 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

But a definition based on being about love would be much more narrow for it would exclude the very majority of lifeforms.
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11 posted 07-13-2009 04:00 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Does a definition which includes a psychological dimension necessarily exclude a biological one?
Essorant
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12 posted 07-13-2009 07:29 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I don't think it necessarily excludes the definition. I just meant that such a definition exclude the many lifeforms that don't have or don't center around that psychological dimension.  In order to include most lifeforms you would need to find a psychological dimension that is common to all lifeforms.  

What psychological dimension do bacteria, flowers, trees, worms, fishes, birds, turtles, horses and humans all have in common?  

moonbeam
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13 posted 07-13-2009 07:45 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

"What psychological dimension do bacteria, flowers, trees, worms, fishes, birds, turtles, horses and humans all have in common?"

Precisely Ess, probably none.  You make the point correctly I think.

Which is why I suspect that Stacy wasn't so much talking about biological life but more psychological life, thus legitimately excluding the trees and worms and bacteria you mentioned.  Perhaps her suggestion is that love is important to a fulfilling psychological life even though it may not be all that important, or even as you suggested, potentially detrimental to, a healthy biological life.  Yes?
Essorant
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14 posted 07-13-2009 08:00 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

No, no.  She just said "life", and suggested it was all about love.   That is why I came in and made ado
moonbeam
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15 posted 07-13-2009 04:36 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Exactly Ess, she said "life" and, as you say, made out it was all about love.

And you said: what about trees and amoeba and such, they live but they don't love?

And I said: But let's explore what she might mean by the word "life".  Is life necessarily simply a biological function?  Is there not be a dimension to life that is psychological and no less important than the mere biological necessity.  We can take this further and say that the word "life" can mean something different in the case of biological life forms that have a strong psychological dimension to their lives, to the narrow biological definition you apply to all organisms.  Not wanting to trivialise, but casting around for an easily graspable example, we mean something more when we say "get a life", than just "keep breathing and eating".  You would hopefully never say to a tree "get a life" - not unless your were Prince Charles.

And you said: Yes, but trees and amoeba don't have a psychological life.

And I said: Precisely my point, for it is therefore a possibility, if we are talking about simply the psychological dimension of life, for human life to experience something that trees and amoeba do not, it may further be possible that this something is love, and is a vital part of that life.  
Essorant
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16 posted 07-13-2009 06:25 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Moonbeam,

But none of that was pointed out originally.  Replace her "life" with "a living thing" and perhaps you will see my point a bit more clearly:

"I truly, whole-heartedly believe that [a living thing] is all about love

"A living thing" is unspecified to any kind and therefore encompasses any living thing, from a tree to a human. It doesn't limit it to "psychological being" or "unpsychological being".  That is the same thing that Stacy did with "life".  "Life" doesn't automatically mean "psyche" or "psychological life" unless you specify it.  Without  specification "life" encompasses anything that is "life".


quote:
Is life necessarily simply a biological function?


Yes, of course it is.  The "psychological" is just another word for a different aspect or extent of the biological function.  Ever felt love without a body?  I don't recommend trying it.     Without the biological (=body) there is no psychological (=soul).  
  
moonbeam
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17 posted 07-14-2009 07:27 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Sure, I understood what you were saying immediately Ess.

Stacy used the words "life" and "love".  We'll leave aside any wider discussion of possibilities in the word "love", as trying to consider whether a tree can feel a type of love might tax even my patience.  

In relation to the word "life", this debate has been about countering the suggestion made by you that Stacy was writing nonsense when she suggested that love was an essential part of life.

Instead of trying to focus on degree, and to try and argue that love is a relatively minor component of life, you chose to run the argument that there are forms of life that cannot possibly experience emotions of any kind let alone love.  I'm not disputing that.  

But, what you want Stacy to do is narrow her set by using the phrase "human life".  And in fact all this debate has been about is whether she needs to do this to make logical sense.  You say she does, I say she doesn't.  I say in fact that it's self evident to a sensitive reader that when she uses the word "life" she refers to those forms of biological life that can experience the kind of psychological processes necessary to give her argument the possibility of validity.  I'd go further and say that the sort of "life" Stacy is referring to isn't simply a biological life, or even a biological life at all, but the life that you perhaps have which the mythical zombie does not have.  A life of the mind.  

(And btw, as an aside, I didn't say "is life necessarily only a biological function?"  I said "Is life necessarily simply a biological function?" - I don't know for certain that a mental existence beyond a biological body is possible, but yes if that were possible I would conceivably think of it as "life").

Perhaps the more interesting thing to emerge from this discussion is at least a possible reason as to why you don't seem to have much of a connection with some contemporary poetry: the type of poetry that relies heavily upon not limiting the possibilities of meaning and nuance of words and phrases.  Your knowledge of linguistics and etymology may even be a hindrance if you are insistent upon giving every word its precise and correct historic usage and meaning in a very mechanistic way.  It seems that when you hear a bird in a tree which sounds like rasping whirr, you hear only the cry of a bird.  You don't hear the sound of the world's spring being wound, or the spring of your own mentality in tension, or even the wind-up to some watershed or change [Murakami - "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle"].  

So that when Stacy questions love and life, you immediately seize on a way to render the question meaningless by narrowing the possibilities (e.g. by substituting the phrase "living thing" which is precisely what she didn't say) instead, for instance, of looking at ways in which your own flexibility of perception could give validity to the suggestion she makes.

It's kind of funny that, given the title of this thread, the discussion has turned to a literal interpretation.

[This message has been edited by moonbeam (07-14-2009 08:27 AM).]

Essorant
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18 posted 07-14-2009 08:48 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Moonbeam,

quote:
In relation to the word "life", this debate has been about countering the suggestion made by you that Stacy was writing nonsense when she suggested that love was an essential part of life.


That is not what I was suggesting at all, Moonbeam.  The difference is about generalization and specification.  She generalized using the word "life" and then tried to describe that general thing with a specific attribute which doesn't live up to the breadth of the general thing.  You suggest that she meant something narrower than "life" in general when she said "life", but I think that is trying to read her mind and explain away the error of projecting the importance of love as if it is as large or larger than life itself.  In any case, I am not saying or suggesting her writing is nonsense.  I am just pointing out where I disagree and find it mistaken.

quote:
I say in fact that it's self evident to a sensitive reader that when she uses the word "life" she refers to those forms of biological life that can experience the kind of psychological processes necessary to give her argument the possibility of validity.  I'd go further and say that the sort of "life" Stacy is referring to isn't simply a biological life, or even a biological life at all, but the life that you perhaps have which the mythical zombie does not have.  A life of the mind.  



"Life" is not the equivelant to specifying "psychological life" or "life of the mind" anymore than saying "bird" is equivelant specifically saying "crow". If I say "An animal's life is about swimming" it means "an animal", not "a fish".  Why won't you accept that life means life regardless of your belief that she meant something more specific, such as "of the mind"?

quote:
Perhaps the more interesting thing to emerge from this discussion is at least a possible reason as to why you don't seem to have much of a connection with some contemporary poetry: the type of poetry that relies heavily upon not limiting the possibilities of meaning and nuance of words and phrases.  


That is part of the reason.   I think it is rather reckless when people don't use limitations.


quote:
It seems that when you hear a bird in a tree which sounds like rasping whirr, you hear only the cry of a bird.  You don't hear the sound of the world's spring being wound, or the spring of your own mentality in tension, or even the wind-up to some watershed or change [Murakami - "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle"].  


Yes, for the most part.  On the spot my mind usually takes sights and sounds exactly as they are without imagination interfering much.  It is usually afterwards in remembering and looking back that imagination and poetry come in and play.    
 



[This message has been edited by Essorant (07-15-2009 12:08 AM).]

moonbeam
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19 posted 07-15-2009 05:19 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam


quote:
    quote:In relation to the word "life", this debate has been about countering the suggestion made by you that Stacy was writing nonsense when she suggested that love was an essential part of life.
That is not what I was suggesting at all, Moonbeam.  The difference is about generalization and specification.  She generalized using the word "life" and then tried to describe that general thing with a specific attribute which doesn't live up to the breadth of the general thing.  You suggest that she meant something narrower than "life" in general when she said "life", but I think that is trying to read her mind and explain away the error of projecting the importance of love as if it is as large or larger than life itself.  In any case, I am not saying or suggesting her writing is nonsense.  I am just pointing out where I disagree and find it mistaken.




It comes to the same thing Ess.  You were indeed suggesting that the failure of ALL biological life to have the ability to love ruled her suggestion out of court.  But you are wrong about me restricting my argument to fit Stacy's postulate by simply narrowing the definition of life so as to exclude those forms of biological life that cannot love because I go further than that and say that the life she is talking about isn't biological life at all.  Perhaps when I wrote "when she uses the word "life" she refers to those forms of biological life that can experience the kind of psychological processes necessary to give her argument the possibility of validity" that was inadvisable.  You seem to have latched onto it, and it expresses only one possibility i.e. that of some forms of biological life to experience Life (I use the uppercase to signify a life apart from and quite distinct from biological life).    

You ask why I won't "accept that life means life [in the biological sense only]".  The answer is simply because there is no reason that it should, because biological life is not the only possibility.  Sure I could do as you are doing and assume that Stacy meant just a biological life, but that would to imply that Stacy was being illogical or ignorant or both in her statement when there is absolutely no need to imply that.  I prefer to assume that she is logical, and this implies in turn that she was not talking purely about biological life but about Life.
quote:
"Life" is not the equivelant to specifying "psychological life" or "life of the mind" anymore than saying "bird" is equivelant specifically saying "crow". If I say "An animal's life is about swimming" it means "an animal", not "a fish".

You're completely missing the point by trying to suggest that a "psychological life" or a "life of the mind" are somehow subordinate elements within the larger set of biological life, just as a crow is a species within the larger group know as bird.   This is not what I'm suggesting at all.  Life as Stacy means it is quite distinct from biological life, it has nothing whatsoever to do with physical life at all.  Call it metaphysical, spiritual, life of the mind, psychological, it doesn't matter.  As I said before it doesn't even necessarily reside "within" biological life, in fact I rather suspect it doesn't, but that's another discussion.

From wikipedia:

"Life (cf. biota) is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have self-sustaining biological processes ("alive," "living"), from those which do not[1][2] —either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as "inanimate."

In biology, the science that studies living organisms, "life" is the condition which distinguishes active organisms from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, functional activity and the continual change preceding death.[3][4] A diverse array of living organisms (life forms) can be found in the biosphere on Earth, and properties common to these organisms—plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria — are a carbon- and water-based cellular form with complex organization and heritable genetic information. Living organisms undergo metabolism, maintain homeostasis, possess a capacity to grow, respond to stimuli, reproduce and, through natural selection, adapt to their environment in successive generations. More complex living organisms can communicate through various means.[1][5]

In philosophy and religion, the conception and nature of life varies, and offer interpretations in the frameworks of existence and consciousness, and touch on many other related issues, such as, ontology, value, life stance, purpose, conceptions of God, the soul and the afterlife."

I thought your "rather reckless without limitation" comment was great   .   And you are right of course, there is a point where contemporary poetry crosses a boundary imv, from interesting exploration into meaningless yet important sounding waffle.  I think one of the main challenges of modern writing is to balance at that point, for it is there that new discoveries are made and fresh ideas formed.  But it's not easy, and undoubtedly a lot of rubbish results.  Yet is that not better than endlessly digging over the old, in search of ... what?
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20 posted 07-15-2009 03:11 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     This is stanza 56 of "Orchestra, or a Poem of Dauncing" by Sir John Davies.  I think perhaps this may be something like Stacylyn418 was getting at.  She will perhaps forgive my mind reading here.  This is pre-watchmaker universe, I think, coming at the end of the 16th century or thereabouts.  As a poem it lags in places, but overall it's a stunner that greatly gains by being read through so you get a sense of how it unfolds and how one thing leads into the next; otherwise some of the excerpts may not do it for you.

     The sense is that everything has some sort of life to it, and that love puts everything in motion, animating it into a sort of dance, a "just order" in the mind of God.  On the one level, it is human love that does this, since this is a poem about an attempted seduction, Antinous, who is the chief suitor of the all the suitors who are trying to talk Penelope into declaring Odysseus dead, and then into marrying one of them is really trying to work his magic here.  He is doomed to fail.  On the other hand, it is a poem about the love of God for man, though you'll have to read the poem yourselves to judge how obvious that is.  I'd say not.

     A lot of people draw a strict line of distinction between living and non-living things.  The argument for doing so is compelling, and I find that fighting about it with others is a big pain.  I've come to an alternative point of view.  My view is that all things are living, only the attention of some things is perfectly focused.  The only thing a lump of coal or a rock pays attention to is exactly what is going on at the moment.  This is true down to the most minute level:  It is entirely at one.  As things become beings such focus becomes more difficult, requiring mastery of increasingly more complex processes to gain the proper level of attention.  But this is the thing that all things have in common, Attention.  Humans simply aren't as good at it as rocks, but if we continue down the path we've chosen, we may get better at it without having to bother with all those troublesome consciousness and responsibility parts getting in the way.

Orchestra. 56.

What makes the Vine about the Elme to daunce
With turnings, windings, & imbracements round?
What makes the Load-stone to the North aduance
His subtile point, as if from thence he found
His chiefe attractiue Vertue to redound?
Kind Nature first doth cause all things to loue,
Loue makes them daunce and in iust order moue.
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21 posted 07-15-2009 05:18 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

http://www.fen.bilkent.edu.tr/~tanatar/theforce.htm

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22 posted 07-15-2009 05:21 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Trust DT to ride to the rescue.     There ya go Ess, someone who is prepared to argue that even flowers and rocks are powered by "love", or whatever ...
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23 posted 07-15-2009 05:37 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Time, sex and the urge to reproduce perhaps.



Or maybe our lives are only a by-product of the lives of a smaller but much more irresistible force.

Chemical compounds, synergies of atoms, genes.

Perhaps the meaning of our life is to play a small part in the continuation of theirs, we’re simply too vain and full of ourselves to see it.
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24 posted 07-16-2009 12:03 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Moonbeam,

quote:
You were indeed suggesting that the failure of ALL biological life to have the ability to love ruled her suggestion out of court.


Not quite, Moonbeam.  There was no "ruling out",  but ruling in by using the word life.  As I reiterated over and over again "life" doesn't exclude any kind of life unless you limit and specify a particular kind of life.    She said life (not "psychological life" or "life of the mind" etc) and suggested life being all about love.   But bacteria, trees, ants, also are and have life and therefore generalizing about life also must face the evidence of whether the generalization lives up to those things as well.  I was only pointing out that the generalization doesn't live up to a general truth of those things, not that it doesn't live up to a general truth about anything at all.


quote:
You ask why I won't "accept that life means life [in the biological sense only]".


Wait a minute.  Remember both psychological and unpsychological living things are "biological" things, therefore we must not use "biological" as if it specifically only means "unpsychological" living things instead of "psychological" living things too.   That is the same with the word "life".  It belongs to both psychological and unpsychological.   The word "Life" doesn't exclude either unless specify or limit it to something such as "psychological" that excludes unpsychological things from the reference.  Stacy's comments don't specify psychological despite being imagined as being meant to do that by you  


quote:
You're completely missing the point by trying to suggest that a "psychological life" or a "life of the mind" are somehow subordinate elements within the larger set of biological life, just as a crow is a species within the larger group know as bird.   This is not what I'm suggesting at all.  Life as Stacy means it is quite distinct from biological life, it has nothing whatsoever to do with physical life at all.  Call it metaphysical, spiritual, life of the mind, psychological, it doesn't matter.  As I said before it doesn't even necessarily reside "within" biological life, in fact I rather suspect it doesn't, but that's another discussion.



Those are your specifications, not Stacy's, Moonbeam.   How do you know she didn't mean "life" (in general, any and all) when she did say it instead of your specification of "psychological life, or life of the mind, etc"?   But I think you are doing her even worse injustice if you try to make her overambitious generalization of love as also being suggesting that psychological life is detached from biological and physical things that allow it to happen in the first place.  
 
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