Are viruses alive?

Is a virus alive (query)
A basic modern quiz style example of the “are viruses alive?” query; the quick and short answer to which is option (e) none of the above, being that (a) alive, (b) dead, (c) half-alive, and (d) dead and alive, are “anthropisms”, as Charles Sherrington (1938) explained, NOT recognized by chemistry and physics, according to which something akin to the cell-as-molecule (see: virus molecule) is the correct answer, wherein in the terms “life” and “death” are foreign concepts, i.e. defunct scientific (see: defunct theory of life; life does not exist) terminologies (see: life terminology upgrades).
In queries, are viruses alive? is a near century-long ongoing overly-common question as to whether or not a virus, by definition, is "alive", i.e. a living thing; the question itself is a loaded one, being that in order to answer the question properly, one also has to be able to simultaneously answer the residual question "are humans alive?", a repercussion of the original question, only seen following prolonged introspection; wherein the standard "recourse to authority" will only tend to impede.

In 1969, American chemical engineer Linus Pauling, in his General Chemistry, devoted the opening sections of his biochemistry chapter to debate the question of whether or not to consider the virus, which he characterized as “the simplest kind of matter thought to be alive”, as correctly: (a) living organism, (b) giant particle, or (c) giant molecule (with a molecular weight of 10,000,000), a query to which, in the end, he remained indecisive about. [3]

The following are related quotes:

Life is an example of the way in which an energy-system in its give and take with the energy-system around it can continue to maintain itself for a period as a self-centered, so to say, self-balanced unity. Perhaps the most striking feature of it is that it acts as though it ‘desired’ to maintain itself. But we do not say of the spinning of a heavy top which resists being upset that it ‘desires’ to go on spinning. The very constitution of the living system may compel it to increase; thus a self-fermenting protein system, granted its conditions, must increase. The behavior of a living body is an example of this, and we call it ‘living’. The behavior of the atom is an example of this and we do not call it ‘living’. The behavior of those newly discovered so-called ‘viruses’ is an example of this and there is hesitation whether or not to call it ‘living’. The difference is one not of ultimate nature but of scheme and degree of complexity. The atoms and sub-atoms are among earth’s commonest. ‘Living’ becomes a name for certain complexes of them, arrangements of which it may be said that they are organized integratively, i.e. to form a solidarity, and individual. These ‘faculties’, as Fernel has described, of moving, of ingesting, of excreting and secreting, are processes which examination resolves wholly into chemistry and physics. Chemistry and physics finds them not separable from the rest of chemistry and physics. What we call by convention ‘life’ is then chemical-physical. There is indeed no good ground for speaking of these as living, those as not-living.”
Charles Sherrington (1938), Man on His Nature

“One day the present controversy over the living and non-living status of viruses will be seen as picayune as the medieval debate over the number of angels on the point of a needle.”
— Author (1940), “Article”, Veterinary Medicine (Ѻ)

“Under the electron microscope, it is possible to see the actual arrangement of the virus particles in the crystal lattice. Thus, for the first time in history, we can see a molecule. Are viruses alive? It may be that they are not. Scientists are undecided, although the modern trend is to regard them as living entities. This clearly is the province of the biochemist … a curious kind of no man’s land where one minute an aggregation of molecules is ‘alive’ and another is inanimate.”
— Author (1947), “Article”, The Chemical Age (Ѻ)

Are viruses alive? The answer depends on the definition of life. Rather than be engulfed in the quicksands of semantics, the writer will evade a direct answer; the reader is as qualified to ponder the question as he is.”
— Ernest Borek (1952), Man: the Chemical Machine (Ѻ)

Are viruses alive? This question is still widely debated among virologists. In view of the ever increasing data we have on the superb complexities of the life cycle of a virus, it would seem to be prejudice on our part to exclude them from the living?”
— Author. (1955). “Article”, InterChemical Review (Ѻ)

“The question ‘are viruses alive?’ cannot be answered.”
— Clyde Goodheart (1969), An Introduction to Virology (Ѻ)

Are viruses alive? Viruses lie in a semantic twilight zone between living and nonliving organisms. They are essentially short segments of genetic material, DNA or RNA, protected by overcoats of protein. They can be crystallized and they will not grow or propagate in isolation which supports that they are nonliving.”
Edward Wilson (1977), Life: Cells, Organisms, Populations [1]

“Re: ‘Are viruses Alive?’ The answer is no. Charles Sherrington gave the answer in his 1938 Gifford Lectures Man on His Nature. On the question of ‘those newly discovered so-called ‘viruses’ [1935]’, as he says, “there is hesitation whether or not to call it ‘living’”, about which he concludes, following prolonged derisively-sharp argument, correctly: ‘when physics and chemistry have entered on the description of the perceptible, life disappears from the scene, and consequently death. Both are anthropisms.’ Virus, correctly, is an animate form of powered CHNOPS+ based atomic structure. So are you. You have to convince yourself, however, that you are not alive to see the truth of this answer. Tesla saw it in 1915 when he concluded: ‘there is no thing endowed with life.’ Life and death are religio-mythology concepts, handed down to us from the ages, not scientific ones.”
Libb Thims (2014), post (6+ likes) to DNews “Are Viruses Alive?” video [2]

1. Wilson, Edward O. (1977). Life: Cells, Organisms, Populations (pg. 13). Sinauer Associates.
2. Anon. (2013). “Are Viruses Alive?” (Ѻ), DNews, Mar 6.
3. Pauling, Linus. (1969). General Chemistry (ch.24: Biochemistry, §24.1: The Nature of Life, pgs. 767-69; §:24.2 The Structure of Living Organisms, pgs. 769-70). Dover.

● Anon. (2014). “What is life? Are viruses alive?” (Ѻ), This Place, Mar 12.

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