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How Death Was Invented And What It Is For

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Chapter Summary

Death is life's way of distinguishing target information from "jottings" acquired during the computation of an algorithm - and limiting the thermodynamic cost of discarding the latter. Death is a tool in constructing adaptive futures. In human cultures death is an editor of information and an incentive for post-biological forms of survival. Death emerged at a certain point, comparatively recent in the history of the cosmos; and it did so in four stages. In the first stage, death was simply the cessation of life: the negation of life's attempt to survive and be immortal. The second stage in the development of death came at the collective level of asexually reproducing clone groups and lineages. The third stage in the evolution of death coincided with the origins of sexual reproduction. In the fourth stage, death takes on a richer and different meaning again in the human context of culture and language and self-consciousness.

Keywords: asexually; clone groups; death; sexual reproduction

10.1163/ej.9789004185753.i-378.119
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004185753.i-378.119
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