Jump to content



Adverts help to support the work of this non-profit organisation. To go ad-free join as a Member.


Photo
- - - - -

Why Do Living Things Reproduce?


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 anarke848

  • Registered User
  • 18 posts
  • 0

Posted 18 September 2009 - 06:09 AM


I've been thinking a bit about reproduction and the first stream of thought that came into my mind was that if living things reproduce, then there must be a fundamental reason or purpose for them to do so. In other words, if there must be a goal or purpose for living things to reproduce and attempt to stay alive, then what could that be?

Then I began to ponder about the possibility that there is no purpose of reproduction though it seemed counter-intuitive to me at first. But what if the desire to procreate is simply a random mutation from the very early beginnings of life, without any necessary inherent meaning, that happened to spawn a continual cycle of living organisms only as a result of its nature. Picture the site, whatver it may be, of the original formation of the smallest units of life. Let's say in the beginning there is a random soup forming one-celled organisms without any instincts or desires. So these organisms keep springing up, living, and dying without procreating. Then suddenly, a random natural mutation arises where one of these organisms decides to divide. This organism would continue to divide spreading its natural instinct to reproduce eventually leading to continued evolution, perhaps into the varied forms of life we have today. In this hypothetical situation, it is clear that all of the different future organisms would have this instinct to reproduce, but is it necessarily meaningful? This propagation of life would simply be an extension of this original random genetic trait. No necessary purpose, no underlying or greater meaning.

I'd love to hear some opinions about this.
  • 0

#2 msied

  • Registered User
  • 88 posts
  • -3

Posted 18 September 2009 - 06:22 AM

If the first living organisms did not reproduce, we would not be around today to ask "why?" Hell, the first living organisms perhaps did not even reproduce at all, and thus we won't ever come to consider their existence at all for it. It is not a matter of why, not a matter of purpose, but rather a matter of occurrence which predetermines our eventual wonderment toward intent. Happening randomly without any direction intended, outlasting any other technique or organism's methodology of living at all, reproduction merely became the status quo for organisms capable of going forth and evolving back into that end, so that eventually we could come to look back and wonder about them and the very "meaning" of it. Time eradicated those organisms which could not survive via offspring, and so our focus is dead set on those organisms which could, being the only ones around.

If it can mean anything at all, it might just imply that it would eventually muster up an organism which could survive every possible condition and range, be it biological or by its own achievements. And that's just the end of our able conception of it. What's in store for the future of man, if not his degradation? Is our obsession with apocalypse and the idea of death and being wiped out possibly just a negative feedback mechanism built in which would ensure we would overcome those "inevitables"?
  • 0

#3 anarke848

  • Registered User
  • 18 posts
  • 0

Posted 18 September 2009 - 06:40 AM

It is not a matter of why, not a matter of purpose, but rather a matter of occurrence which predetermines our eventual wonderment toward intent.


Sorry but I'm not sure I understand the direction of your post. What is your central focus here? I'm just asking if the drive to reproduce/survive could feasibly be a random and essentially meaningless genetic mutation that only seems meaningful within the context of us taking these instincts for granted. Also what would be the significance of this, if any.
  • 0

sponsored ad

  • Advert

#4 tamalak

  • Registered User
  • 73 posts
  • 3

Posted 02 October 2009 - 10:45 PM

Modern-day living things reproduce because living things that did not reproduce died out after one generation.

You can take any philosophical significance from this that you want. But it answers your question as stated.

In this hypothetical situation, it is clear that all of the different future organisms would have this instinct to reproduce, but is it necessarily meaningful? This propagation of life would simply be an extension of this original random genetic trait. No necessary purpose, no underlying or greater meaning.


In my experience, people talk about "underlying" or "greater" meanings when the actual meaning of something is not grand enough to emotionally satisfy them. Unfortunately, the universe does not care whether we are emotionally satisfied or not and so there is no guarantee that the realities underpinning our existence will be very ego-gratifying.

Edited by tamalak, 02 October 2009 - 10:51 PM.

  • 0

#5 DJS

  • Registered User
  • 5,782 posts
  • 0

Posted 03 October 2009 - 07:28 AM

If the first living organisms did not reproduce, we would not be around today to ask "why?" Hell, the first living organisms perhaps did not even reproduce at all, and thus we won't ever come to consider their existence at all for it. It is not a matter of why, not a matter of purpose, but rather a matter of occurrence which predetermines our eventual wonderment toward intent. Happening randomly without any direction intended, outlasting any other technique or organism's methodology of living at all, reproduction merely became the status quo for organisms capable of going forth and evolving back into that end, so that eventually we could come to look back and wonder about them and the very "meaning" of it. Time eradicated those organisms which could not survive via offspring, and so our focus is dead set on those organisms which could, being the only ones around.


I don't believe there were ever organisms whose default design did not include the ability to reproduce (though obviously there are infertile mutants). One must remember that complex cells didn't just spontaneously appear out of nowhere. The odds of that are, for all practical purposes, zero. Before there was complex life there must have been various stages of 'quasi-life'. The most primitive quasi-life were probably extremely fragile pieces of self replicating code. This ability to replicate, to utilizes materials from the surrounding environment to perpetuate a particular pattern, is part of the basic definition of life. So basic, in fact, that it is a more essential component of the definition than responding to stimuli.

The reasoning being put forward by other posters in this thread, while not totally bogus, is in need of revision...

Self replicating patterns availed themselves to the force of natural selection, which in turn led to evolution and *life*.

There are plenty of patterns in the universe which can not self replicate, and which hence do not constitute life.
  • 0

#6 DJS

  • Registered User
  • 5,782 posts
  • 0

Posted 03 October 2009 - 08:02 AM

However, to more directly answer the OP...

There is no definitive answer to your question. The laws of our universe produce localized region(s) where conditions allow for the emergence of self replicating entities, evolution, and increasingly complex life. From where the universe and its laws originated are (obviously) beyond our current understanding.

A book which you may be interested in checking out is Gardner's Biocosm (selfish biocosm hypothesis).
  • 0

#7 caston

  • Registered User
  • 2,131 posts
  • 23
  • Location:Perth Australia

Posted 03 October 2009 - 08:29 AM

But not all members of a community reproduce. Many end up as workers and soldiers rather than as breeders.
  • 0

#8 DJS

  • Registered User
  • 5,782 posts
  • 0

Posted 03 October 2009 - 04:56 PM

Caston, this is a good point. I believe what you might have in mind are highly social insects such as ants and termites. In these cases the colony could be looked at as a superorganism.

This actually leads into a point I wanted to make earlier but didn't have time - in order for biology (and exceptions such as these) to make sense, one must view things from the genic level rather than the organismal level.
  • 0

#9 DJS

  • Registered User
  • 5,782 posts
  • 0

Posted 03 October 2009 - 09:19 PM

The original replicators which evolved more and more sophisticated means of perpetuating themselves, enjoyed differential reproductive success over those replicators which did not. Sophistication can be realized through various evolutionary trajectories. One of these was the development of protective structures [which were themselves coded for]. The emergence of this phenomenon marks the beginning of the genotype/phenotype dichotomy. Protection can also be realized through various evolutionary trajectories, first from being an internal/external barrier, then perhaps by developing the ability to sense beneficial/harmful stimuli and mechanical movement by which to respond to it, etc etc. Eventually this trajectory of sophistication would lead to the modern cell, with all of its peculiar qualities which we have decided are necessary qualities for how we define 'life'. Replicators which traveled along a different trajectory, such as viruses, evolved different forms of sophistications, but also happened to land in an evolutionary cul-de-sac where the other sophistications which *life* possesses were unnecessary/not beneficial/not selected for.

Eh, I haven't truly finished this train of thought but I need to get going.

Before I leave, here's a good web article for those interested in meaning/implications of life: http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Life
  • 0

#10 caston

  • Registered User
  • 2,131 posts
  • 23
  • Location:Perth Australia

Posted 05 October 2009 - 05:56 PM

Caston, this is a good point. I believe what you might have in mind are highly social insects such as ants and termites. In these cases the colony could be looked at as a superorganism.


I'm thinking along the lines of post-human communism.
  • 0

#11 exapted

  • Registered User
  • 168 posts
  • 0
  • Location:Minneapolis, MN

Posted 06 October 2009 - 08:39 AM

I've been thinking a bit about reproduction and the first stream of thought that came into my mind was that if living things reproduce, then there must be a fundamental reason or purpose for them to do so. In other words, if there must be a goal or purpose for living things to reproduce and attempt to stay alive, then what could that be?

Then I began to ponder about the possibility that there is no purpose of reproduction though it seemed counter-intuitive to me at first. But what if the desire to procreate is simply a random mutation from the very early beginnings of life, without any necessary inherent meaning, that happened to spawn a continual cycle of living organisms only as a result of its nature. Picture the site, whatver it may be, of the original formation of the smallest units of life. Let's say in the beginning there is a random soup forming one-celled organisms without any instincts or desires. So these organisms keep springing up, living, and dying without procreating. Then suddenly, a random natural mutation arises where one of these organisms decides to divide. This organism would continue to divide spreading its natural instinct to reproduce eventually leading to continued evolution, perhaps into the varied forms of life we have today. In this hypothetical situation, it is clear that all of the different future organisms would have this instinct to reproduce, but is it necessarily meaningful? This propagation of life would simply be an extension of this original random genetic trait. No necessary purpose, no underlying or greater meaning.

I'd love to hear some opinions about this.

I believe I have one possible solution to the "problem" of reproduction. Maybe reproduction is part of an ethic to grow your patterns into a more powerful set of patterns. I found the following essay on "Continuous Pattern-Sympathy" to be interesting: Universal Ethics

Some amount of ethics is optimal for the future growth of your patterns. This point is obvious, since without reproduction your patterns wouldn't exist. However, the optimal "amount" of ethics is probably never precisely achieved, and being ethical isn't always sympathetic to an individual's short-term motivations.

I will now make some very fast and loose assertions that may or may not make complete sense. I imagine that the pattern of ethics that includes reproduction sits somewhere "below" the level of your short-term motivations, meaning that they are connected and that reproduction somehow forms a foundation for the level of patterns that form your short-term motivations. Your short-term motivations may often include ethics such as reproduction. Like anything else, reproduction has costs and benefits. It is your task to write the book of your own future, keeping in mind how your short-term motivations are linked to the level of ethics which includes reproduction. Who knows, technological development may render biological reproduction obsolete. That depends on your perspective.
  • 0

#12 Teixeira

  • Registered User
  • 143 posts
  • -1

Posted 29 November 2009 - 07:55 PM

I've been thinking a bit about reproduction and the first stream of thought that came into my mind was that if living things reproduce, then there must be a fundamental reason or purpose for them to do so. In other words, if there must be a goal or purpose for living things to reproduce and attempt to stay alive, then what could that be?

Then I began to ponder about the possibility that there is no purpose of reproduction though it seemed counter-intuitive to me at first. But what if the desire to procreate is simply a random mutation from the very early beginnings of life, without any necessary inherent meaning, that happened to spawn a continual cycle of living organisms only as a result of its nature. Picture the site, whatver it may be, of the original formation of the smallest units of life. Let's say in the beginning there is a random soup forming one-celled organisms without any instincts or desires. So these organisms keep springing up, living, and dying without procreating. Then suddenly, a random natural mutation arises where one of these organisms decides to divide. This organism would continue to divide spreading its natural instinct to reproduce eventually leading to continued evolution, perhaps into the varied forms of life we have today. In this hypothetical situation, it is clear that all of the different future organisms would have this instinct to reproduce, but is it necessarily meaningful? This propagation of life would simply be an extension of this original random genetic trait. No necessary purpose, no underlying or greater meaning.

I'd love to hear some opinions about this.

It´s a very interesting point!
In my Topic "What kind of features can we expect...", I made an introdution to that question about sex and reproduction.
Consider this topic: if the purpose of mankind is to achive immortality (and full happiness), than until you reach that goal, man need to reproduce himself and for that purpose he also needs the impulse for sex.
Once you reach that target, do you still need the impulse for reprodution? or is there any other way of reproducing the immortal nature? could it be by "wireless", transfering the informations into the other brains in order to transform them into immortals? (reproducing the immortal nature,).
Think of it, and then let me know about your conclusions or opinions.

Teixeira
  • 0

#13 medicineman

  • Member
  • 705 posts
  • 122
  • Location:Kuwait

Posted 29 November 2009 - 08:00 PM

Asexual organisms spread their dysfunctional genes, with a 100% penetrance. With sexual reproduction, the odds are much more in your favor, that your progeny will not inherit deadly recessive traits, or dominant traits..
  • 0

#14 andrewiscool

  • Registered User
  • 1 posts
  • 0
  • Location:south africa

Posted 15 July 2010 - 07:08 PM

I must say, I've been researching this topic for a while now but many people give the same response "well duh, if there wasn't reproduction then you wouldn't be here to ask that question.", but I'm not fighting against the concept, I know its a fact, all life as the desire to reproduce, but why exactly?

Before I go on, I would like to point out that I'm not a know it all and would appreciate constructive criticism. Everything that follows is only what I've been led to believe from research and my own concepts.

All characteristics of any species is for its very survival in its given habitat that it has evolved in. Like fur is for the animal to keep warm because the cells can not operate when it gets too cold (when heat, simply being a form of kinetic energy, is reduced then chemical reactions, which the cell relies on, become less active). Other things like teeth to make the food easily digestible, bigger brains using intelligence to gather food and prepare food, camouflage to hide, many characteristics for many species. All the characteristics are solely for its survival.

All that makes sense to me, to an extent because even the desire to survive is a topic on its own, but when it comes to reproducing it does not contribute to the individual creatures survival.

I have been please to see some more creative concepts on this site but I feel I disagree every time someone personifies something as though it had a conscious, like where anark said "... organisms decides to divide." its a jump.

I would like to hear any response to this so I know if I'm making sense or not. I have more to add but I think I would like to debate the topic rather than to simply declare it all at once.

Thanks
  • 0

#15 cyborgdreamer

  • Registered User
  • 735 posts
  • 204
  • Location:In the wrong universe

Posted 03 August 2010 - 01:59 AM

Meaning and purpose are products of the conscious mind. Some humans decide that it's meaningful for them to have children. Some humans might also find it emotionally meaningful that other things, like bacteria, reproduce. However, the bacterium itself doesn't have any objective purpose when it divides. It's just a bit of unconscious matter mindlessly following the laws of physics.
  • 0

#16 xEva

  • Registered User
  • 898 posts
  • 453
  • Location:USA

Posted 03 August 2010 - 05:39 AM

..I know its a fact, all life as the desire to reproduce, but why exactly?

But who said that everybody desires to reproduce? When you get horny, you don't think, oh I'm gonna get myself reproduced. You just wanna get laid. And you want it badly. A kid just happens. Oops... If you watched a horny dog or a cat, male or female, it's the same thing. They don't want to "get reproduced". They wanna get laid, or at least have that godawful feeling go away, please -- if you saw a cat in estrus lasting into the second week already, you'd see that the animal clearly suffers. It can't help itself.

We too cannot help ourselves. It's a scam. So powerful a scam that here you are, young men in your early 20s, the horniest age of all, dreaming of immortality and popping pills by the fistful, yet ever-so-protective of your testosterone levels. If someone told you you can live forever if you abstain from sex, would you take it? Would you be able to take it?

But to answer your question, there is no desire to reproduce. There is only desire to get laid. Reproduction is what happens as a result.
  • 0

#17 michael chang

  • Registered User
  • 18 posts
  • 2
  • Location:canada

Posted 03 August 2010 - 05:43 AM

If you c it from DNA's point of view, the answer is to make everyone differ from each other and to keep them different 4ever.
  • 0

#18 Soma

  • Registered User
  • 281 posts
  • 97

Posted 03 August 2010 - 08:57 PM

But to answer your question, there is no desire to reproduce. There is only desire to get laid. Reproduction is what happens as a result.


I don't know, there are a lot of people that want children and they want children of their own (as opposed to adoption). They have a clear desire to reproduce and create children.
  • 0

#19 xEva

  • Registered User
  • 898 posts
  • 453
  • Location:USA

Posted 04 August 2010 - 02:18 AM

I don't know, there are a lot of people that want children and they want children of their own (as opposed to adoption). They have a clear desire to reproduce and create children.

Grown up people, yes. But I thought the OP meant life in general.
  • 0

#20 erzebet

  • Registered User
  • 160 posts
  • 136
  • Location:Bucharest
  • yes

Posted 06 September 2010 - 09:04 PM

I think that reproduction can be explained from the point of view of genes: they build their shell which is the organism, but like anything, it will get tear and wear. It is cheaper to buy a new gadget than try to repair the old one, and i think this is the same with organisms' reproduction, because it takes less energy to rebuild from scratch than one part a time.
  • 0

#21 chris w

  • Registered User
  • 740 posts
  • 261
  • Location:Cracow, Poland

Posted 07 September 2010 - 01:32 PM

If someone told you you can live forever if you abstain from sex, would you take it? Would you be able to take it?


You may not necesarily believe me ( 25 yo male ) xEva but... absolutely totally yes. Moreover, a guy consciously taking the decision he would rather be dead in couple of decades with sex, than to live 'till the end of this universe or even further without a single use of penis actually deserves to be called an evolutionary moron in my humble opinion ( for being a slave to a transient stage of it, unwilling to let it go when the time has come ). I would look upon him like an alien visitor might look upon the first homo with their concerns with meat, stones and fire.

Of course, it's important if I would be just to decide to "engineer away" my sex drive once and for all in this trade off ( easier ) or keep it constantly supressed by will power ( hard, but not impossible )

If I do care about my testosterone, then more due to matters of social assertiveness, persistence in goal reaching and stuff like that, sexual arousal is more of a by - product here really, as pleaserful as it is, but not the be all and end all. I'm definitely not asexual, but I feel like I'm doing a good job in using the "bigger brain" more than the "smaller brain" most of the time. Death is what I fear ( well, duh ! ), possible lack of mo'better in my life might be a concern, but not a fear.

Edited by chris w, 07 September 2010 - 02:30 PM.

  • 0

#22 the_colossus

  • Registered User
  • 61 posts
  • -5

Posted 10 September 2010 - 05:12 PM

Only those that wish to mate will and they will pass on their genes. Making it more likely offspring will share their interest.

If immortality require that you abstained from sex at a certain age, say 150, if you have sex you'd instantly die. Being killed by an organism.
  • 0

sponsored ad

  • Advert

#23 OpaqueMind

  • Registered User
  • 446 posts
  • 136
  • Location:UK
  • no

Posted 13 September 2010 - 07:45 PM

Meaning? What is meaning aside from the use we can extract from something?

The universe has no teleological implications, it is only our minds that hold this illusion.

Reproduction is a necessary base of evolution. The creation of everything more complicated than unicellular life -and possibly even further back to its precursors- relies on minute changes in the genome and selection pressures being able to take place over millennia. There is no other way complex organisms as ourselves could be.
  • 0




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users