Monday, December 5, 2011

Still looking...for extraterrestrial life

Time for definitions...


When we try to search for extraterrestrial life and intelligence, we have to follow some guidelines. The first step is to clarify what is to be meant by “Life” and “intelligence”, i.e. an attempt to define these words. The word "definition''refers to two different situations. First, it means an arbitrary convention. On the other hand it also often designates an attempt to clarify the content of a preexisting word for which we have some spontaneous preconceptions, whatever their grounds, and to catch an (illusory) "essence" of what is defined. It is then made use of pre-existing plain language words which carry an a priori prescientific content likely to introduce some confusion in the reader's mind. The complexity of the problem will be analyzed and we will show that some philosophical prejudice is unavoidable. There are two types of philosophy: “Natural Philosophy”, seeking for some essence of things, and “Critical (or analytical) Philosophy”, devoted to the analysis of the procedures by which we claim to construct a reality. An extension of Critical Philosophy, Epistemo-Analysis (i.e. the Psycho-Analysis of concepts) is presented and applied to the definition of Life and to Astrobiology.

"Philosophy and problems of the definition of Extraterrestrial Life" by Jean Schneider

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