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Consider a living being, for example, us humans. The body of this living being is composed of various components such as heart, brain, kidney, etc. Now the question is whether these components themselves (Like brain or kidney) are also considered a kind of living being?

For example, is the human brain itself a living being?

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    IIRC, there's some conjecture about mitochondria having originated as microorganisms of their own kind before integrating into animals (or see this Nature page). For a broad philosophical overview, see Life in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Jul 11, 2023 at 17:10
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    Some species of lizard (which are living beings) exhibit autotomy – they self-amputate their tail which continues to wriggle and may distract a predator. Is the tail a living being until it uses up its stored energy? Mike the headless chicken lived for 18 months after its head was cut off. Without a head, was the rest just a 'body part', or was it a living being? Jul 12, 2023 at 17:54
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    @Kristian Berry or slime mold. Jul 12, 2023 at 17:58
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    A bacterium is considered to be a living being. It reproduces by splitting into two viable bacteria, which are both living beings. Somewhere between, is the developing clone a body part? For humans, is an ovum a body part? Is an embryo? Jul 12, 2023 at 18:04
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    The question is like "what is a conscious being?" A dog? If you have lived with one plainly 'yes'. A mouse? Hmm.... yes. An ant? Well, it is aware of its surroundings. A tree...? Some trees react to the behaviour of nearby trees in their family... and so on, until you get to a rock. One might argue that in a holistic universe it is because it shares a fraction of the whole. Jul 12, 2023 at 18:45

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No, and reasoning to that conclusion would be the fallacy of division. From WP:

A fallacy of division is an informal fallacy that occurs when one reasons that something that is true for a whole must also be true of all or some of its parts.

In biology, the term used to denote being is organism. From WP:

An organism (from Ancient Greek ὄργανον (órganon) 'instrument, implement, tool', and Ancient Greek -ισμός (-ismós)) is any biological living system that functions as an individual life form. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). The idea of organism is based on the concept of minimal functional unit of life. Three traits have been proposed to play the main role in qualification as an organism... noncompartmentability – structure that cannot be divided without its functionality loss. (emphasis mine)

So, what makes a monkey a living being and not a monkey's hand? A monkey can adapt to its environment using its central nervous system and can reproduce, but a hand has none of that functionality. To be a being requires a certain number of traits, and such a study is normally conducted in ontology.

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    Yes, not too many people ascribe separate living entity status to a kidney or a liver. But no every biology text I remember calls every cell a living entity. There was some special-case-ing done around nucleus-less cells like red blood cells and platelets... don't remember details
    – Rushi
    Jul 11, 2023 at 18:01
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    @Rusi Cells are living, but they are not biological organisms. To conflate the two would be an equivocation of the term 'being' which has multiple senses. Any argument to the contrary is just linguistic ambiguity and confusion.
    – J D
    Jul 11, 2023 at 18:12
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    I would suggest that per the cited definition, what makes the hand a non-organism is not its inabilities, but the fact that removing a finger doesn't affect its function, whereas removing the hand affects the monkey's function. The tissues of the disembodied hand are after all capable of carrying out the functions of life, given a sufficiently well curated environment. But they're just as capable of that with fewer fingers, or no fingers at all.
    – g s
    Jul 12, 2023 at 18:47
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    @gs I differ. Remove a thumb, and find out how inadequate the hand is for many tasks. I'd also point out that functionality is defined in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions for being defined as an organism. The removal of a hand would not impact the basic criteria for being alive. You furthermore conflate life with being, which is what the question asks after. Tissues are alive, but they are not a being, and to be a being, they must cohesively function as a being.
    – J D
    Jul 12, 2023 at 20:15
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    I should have specified a disembodied hand.
    – g s
    Jul 12, 2023 at 20:33
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The term "being" carries the meaning that the entity is biologically alive, and it lives by itself in its context. That is, that it doesn't depend on others to survive.

You will normally find also "living being", but there are no "non-living beings". Those would just be "entities" or things, not "beings".

Of course, such definition holds many assumptions. For example that we anyway need of a functional ecosystem, that the conditions to live are given, and that survival is assessed on the short term: you are a living being because you don't need of other humans to survive in the short term, now, this day, this week. Because on the long term, we all depend on the others.

Therefore an arm is not a "being", it is not an entity that can live one day without being attached to a living being.

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    You're going to get really weird results if you lock in this definition. A person on life-sustaining blood pressure medication isn't alive? Parasites with fast metabolisms aren't alive? Conjoined twins are a single "being"? Obligate symbiotes (like us and our intestinal bacteria) aren't alive?
    – g s
    Jul 12, 2023 at 15:28
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Everything depends on your definition of “being”. A kidney is an organic whole and so is a human being. Neither can exist independently of their environment. But a kidney is not an organism. A human being can exist independently of a community, but a kidney cannot exist independently of the community of the other parts with which it interacts.

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