Can all things be classified as "alive" or "not alive?" For example, a cup is not alive, and a person can be alive, but a corpse is not alive. Is the status of life (or otherwise) a metaphysical/logical necessity?

  • 1
    We're told that viruses are on the boundary. askabiologist.asu.edu/questions/are-viruses-alive. For that matter even humans are when they're near death. Different parts of your body die at different times. When you're brain-dead your body is still technically alive. So life/death is not a binary thing like a natural number being prime or not. Biology is messy.
    – user4894
    Oct 19 at 19:07
  • Isn't it strange to call a cup dead? It was never alive in the first place. Though I accept it's "not alive", it never died so how can it be dead? Also, we might be alive, each of our cells might be alive on its own, but how about each of our fingernails or each of our atoms?
    – armand
    Oct 19 at 21:14
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    "Not alive" is not equivalent to "dead". Oct 19 at 22:03
  • A) the title question has a different sense than the text. B) In such sense, "alive" is not a metaphysical fact. It is just an adjective, which applies to specific subjects (according to language rules). In the same form, "blue" applies to a surface, but not to a number, no metaphysical necessity in such fact.
    – RodolfoAP
    Oct 20 at 2:27

Logically speaking, it is a tautology that things are either alive or not alive, just as it is a tautology that things are blue or not blue, big or not big, courageous or not courageous, idiotic or not idiotic, and this has nothing to do with how anything really is except logic and language.

You seem to confuse "dead" and "not alive". They are not the same concept. Dead implies not alive, but not alive does not imply dead.

  • Also, there is no single uncontroversial definition of "alive", so take your pick... Oct 19 at 19:06
  • @LeeDanielCrocker No, indeed, but this is no problem. If that was a problem, it would be a problem for absolutely every word, including every mathematical word, and what would we do then? Oct 20 at 17:49

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