This builds from the previous section, in which I concluded by proposing the following:
“”Life” is a concept used to designate a particular sort of process–a large set of processes–by inorganic, non-living matter. The processes are huge in number, and tiny: at a low level, it is composed of cells moving nutrients, splitting, transferring other material, processing resources, or transporting electro-chemical signals.”
That section sought to paint a picture of a certain sort of understanding what life is– from a nominalists perspective. It sought to show what life is devoid of the binary concepts of “life” and “non-life.” There is far more to say about that picture, but for now we move on.
Life is not merely the process that occurs within itself. Life as we know it is in a constant state of inhaling the world. We breath, and we pull in the air around our mouth and nose. A plant pulls in air, much more gently, from all around it. We drink and eat, and we pull in water and food through our throat.
As these substances are pulled from where they were and move down our throat, diverted to lungs and stomach, or sometimes directly into the bloodstream, they soon become a part of us. The destiny of a portion of the air around my mouth is to become a part of me, as the O2 molecules move into my body, are extracted from the remainder of the air in my lungs, and then transported into my bloodstream. The O2 then travels through my body until it finds a temporary home, bonding with a significantly larger Carbon molecule, and is then transported back out, entering the lungs once again, and moving out. The eating of food is the consumption of a variety of molecules, but primarily those same large carbon molecules. That too is extracted, this time from my intestines, and gets pushed about my body to be used as a building block of my body. Other nutrients find their places, and the wasted molecules or useless molecules eventually make their way out of another portion of my body.
Looked at in this way, the body is materially attached to the world, a conduit of a variety of molecules that enter, are processed in the eddies of my bodily causes, and eventually exhaled. In this way, we understand that the body is connected deeply to the world: not in some mystical form of new age energy, but in the most material of ways, subjugated absolutely to the laws of nature–which are best investigated through the sciences.
Concluding Proposition: 2. Life involves the inhaling of a variety of matter from around an organism, as well as its excrement. The terms ‘inhaling’ and ‘excrement’ are metaphorical, and apply to how an organism is determined in its existence by external causes, and how the organism causes the movement of matter to leave the body and enter the space around it.