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EDIT: The orginal version did not produce any answers about physics. I know what life is, I have studied that for decades. I wanted to hear how the border between matter and spirit looks from the physical point of view, and I would prefer references to published works and widely accepted terminology rather than some hand-waving.

If we conclude by symptoms that what everyone else calls "life" is called "chaos" in the physics parlance, then the answer is simply "no", physics does not deny life, it calls it chaos.

Probably, what I called freedom is called "lack of causality" in physics parlance and it corresponds well with my definition of life in the sense that there cannot be something half-spirit-half-matter. Either there is a causal relationship between two phenomena, or there isn't, no third option. (I will leave for future the related question whether there is an original cause of all causes.)


Life means freedom and freedom means laws can be broken. If the laws can never be broken (including physical laws), there is no freedom and no life. Everything is completely determined and the time dimension is a mere decoration.

EDIT: I missed a big option here, that physics might not describe the entire world. Besides the physical world of causal relationships there might be other parts of existence also, which are free from causal relationships. The might not break the laws of physics, but also not be subjected to them. There might even be some interaction between the physical and non-physical worlds. In that context my question becomes very precise: is it possible to describe all phenomena with mathematical-physical-logical laws or (as I expect it) there will always be some phenomena that in principle cannot be described with such laws (chaos, spirit, life etc.).


From Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible I gather that the single biggest problem in physics is radioactive decay, there is only half-life, but no causality whatsoever for a particular particle to decay at a particular moment. Is it the loophole through which life enters physics?

In related question the accepted upvoted answer starts with "physics deals with the explanation of observable phenomena." That subjects physics to the ill-defined concepts of explanation and observation but I want a strict definition (probably it is not possible to define in mathematical-physical-logical terms what physics is, that would be a perfectly sensible conclusion and might even be provable). In that post the proponent presumes that all consciousness is limited (and probably the entire physical existence is limited). Is it really a necessary conclusion of the mainstream physics? The life-accepting eastern philosophies unequivocally declare both the physical nature and the consciousness to be infinite. That brings about the Goedel's incompleteness theorem, Banach-Tarski paradox and other conclusions common to both eastern and western sciences.

I am myself mathematician and consider the Goedel's incompleteness theorem one of the greatest achievements in mathematics. Am I correct to interpret that in context of physics it means: "not all phenomena can be described by physics"?.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by JamalS, DavePhD, Kyle Kanos, Valter Moretti, John Rennie May 21 at 12:52

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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It seems that you are not distinguishing the concepts of free-will, consciousness, and life. I would consider an E. coli bacterium to be life, but not be conscious or have free will. These are philosophy issues, not physics. –  DavePhD May 21 at 12:44
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The biggest mistake/illusion is this -> people believe they are conscious. As we are, we (people) are conscious maybe few minutes through all our life. In fact, we are totaly governed by every single outer impression. Like a robot/program. Input -> output. Very few people (from ancient times till today) understood this and stoped being a "robot". With us/robots everything happens, (almost (!)) nothing is/was ever made/invented/etc. consciously. Of course, hardcore scientist will never beleive this - but this is the biggest obstacle for a scientist to get a better understanding of the universe. –  sabiland May 21 at 13:57
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I intend no disrespect, but if this is the basis on which you've been taunting physicists, then your taunts must not have bothered them at all. You seem to have a gross misunderstanding of physics to hold this point of view. Anyone who understands the laws of physics and what they mean would tell you that life, consciousness, etc exists because these laws are unbreakable. –  Jim May 21 at 14:03
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I don't expect to convince you in the slightest, but I would recommend that you show at least some respect to the idea that people whose lives focus on studying a concept also have some well thought out philosophical notions about that concept. And taunting someone because you think something is fundamentally wrong with the philosophy of their life's work is not only morally wrong, but when (as in this case) it stems from your own lack of understanding of the topic, you're more likely to become much moreso the tauntee than the taunter. –  Jim May 21 at 14:07
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"Life means freedom and freedom means laws can be broken. If the laws can never be broken (including physical laws), there is no freedom, no life and no consciousness." I think you're confusing yourself by attempting to take ill-defined words like "laws" and "freedom" too seriously, and using them to come to similarly ill-defined conclusions about physics. –  DumpsterDoofus May 21 at 14:11

1 Answer 1

Life means freedom and freedom means laws can be broken.

The exact meaning of life is debatable, but it has more to do with structures that reproduce themselves.

You seem more concerned with consciousness. That is the domain of metaphysics, since we have no idea what consciousness is.

To be sure, psychology is the study of the mind, how it operates, and the rules it follows. This is a real science with statistically valid results, but it's not what we discuss here.

If the laws can never be broken (including physical laws), there is no freedom, no life and no consciousness. Everything is completely static and the time dimension a mere decoration.

For deterministic laws, yes. However, the current prevailing theory of (quantum) physics is not deterministic. At smaller and smaller scales, more and more is left to chance. Also, nothing is ever 100% certain.

We cannot predict human behavior, and we can set some bounds on how bad the best prediction could ever be. Physicists do not have the hubris to claim to do any better. (Anyone claiming to have a physical theory of mind, or cutting-edge metaphysics, is a quack.) What more can you ask for?

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