RE: virus: Belief and Knowledge (was: The truth about faith)

Robin Faichney (
Mon, 22 Sep 1997 09:38:18 +0100

> From: David McFadzean[]
> At 08:26 PM 9/18/97 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:
> >..."Life" only means something at a certain
> >level -- below that level, there's just chemistry, and below
> >that, just physics...
> I agree but I'm still confused about one point. Say you
> are examining two systems, one living and one non-living,
> at the level of chemistry. You say that at that level it
> is just chemistry, but can't you tell the difference
> between them?
All naturally-occurring systems above a certain level of
complexity are living, so if you know that the system you're
looking at is naturally-occurring, that could be a clue. You
may have some reason to believe that a particular substance
or process is beyond the capacity of present day chemists
to synthesise. But in principle, looking only at chemistry
and absolutely nothing else, no, I say there is no difference.

> >But we'd got on to talking about information and matter.
> >That's not a matter of levels, or not in the same sense.
> >"Information" is, in a way, just a longer word for "form",
> >where that's distinguished from "content", so the
> >relationship between information and matter is the same
> >as that between form and content.
> Does the form need content, ie. a substrate? There needs
> to be something that is arranged somehow, right? (Again,
> not disagreeing, just clarifying.)
Yes it does. You can't have form without content or content
without form, in reality -- the distinction is an abstraction.

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