|A comparison of the independent and equivalent Goethe (1808) and Thims (1995) social reaction (human chemical reaction) models, according to which if human bondings and debondings are but chemicals reacting, then when, if it all, is one able or not to assert that any other given reaction, such as hydrogen reacting with oxygen to form water:|
can be said to be "alive"?
Goethe | Thims
German polyintellect Johann Goethe (1808) and American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims (1995), independently, developed equivalent versions of human chemical reaction theory, via their respective love thought experiments, amid which people are re-conceptualized as reactive chemicals whose interactions and reactions are governed by the laws and principles of physical chemistry. In this purview, one deep question that eventually arises to the fore, is when, technically, can one say that a chemical reaction, whether two humans reacting to form a couple or two hydrogen atoms reacting to form a molecule, is "alive"? Goethe left the problem open, via his famous three person (Edward, Captain, Charlotte) dialogue of chapter four:
“You ought yourself to see these creatures, which seem so dead, and which are yet so full of inward energy and force, at work before your eyes. You should observe them with a real personal interest. Now they seek each other out, attract each other, seize, crush, devour, destroy each other, and then suddenly reappear again out of their combinations, and come forward in fresh, renovated, unexpected form; thus you will comprehend how we attribute to them a sort of immortality—how we speak of them as having sense and understanding; because we feel our own senses to be insufficient to observe them adequately, and our reason too weak to follow them.”
Thims, in 2009, after study of Goethe, discovered in 2006, solved the problem, via the conclusion that "alive", and its terminological ken, is an anthropomorphic religio-mythology conception, and that just as hydrogen molecules reacting with oxygen molecules to form water molecules are defined as defined as being "alive", neither are human molecules reacting to form, e.g., dihumanide molecules, defined as being alive. 
Existence | Philosophy
See main: Reaction existenceAmerican astrophysicist Max Tegmark, one of the spokespersons and or interviewees in the Templeton Foundation promo video for their “Science and the Big Questions” funding area, who lists on his MIT faculty homepage the following quote by American inner voice philosopher and theologian Howard Thurman (1899-1981) as one of his guiding philosophies: 
“Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
This difficult do decipher—in modern physical science terms—philosophy, does contain the word "go" which seems to have immediate connection to Scottish physicist James Maxwell's famous age three query "what's the go o' that?", and thus seems in some sense to shed light on the problem in that we can ask the same query about chemical reactions, namely: why do chemical reactions go? The first succinct answer, to this question, was given by German physical chemist Walther Nernst, in short, as follows: 
“Since every chemical process, like every process of nature, can only advance without the introduction of external energy only in the sense in which it can perform work; and since also for a measure of the chemical affinity, we must presuppose the absolute condition, that every process must complete itself in the sense of the affinity—on this basis we me may without suspicion regard the maximal external work of a chemical process (i.e. the change of free energy), as the measure of affinity. Therefore the clearly defined problem of thermo-chemistry is to measure the amounts of the changes of free energy associated with chemical processes, with the greatest accuracy possible … when this problem shall be solved, then it will be possible to predict whether or not a reaction can complete itself under the respective conditions. All reactions advance only in the sense of a diminution of free energy, i.e. only in the sense of the affinity.”
Chemical reactions, certainly, do not "come alive", and certainly human interactions, relationships, and dynamics are chemical reactions (see: human chemical reaction theory); hence, a solution to the crux seems to be redefinition via the above "moral symbols", as Goethe called them, and logic utilized by Nernst and is modern explanation of reality as physical chemistry sees things.
A related quote, to the Thurman quote, shown below, by Melissa, a Rhodes Scholar, on her way to start postgraduate work at the University of Oxford, one of the women in American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims’ circa 1993 mate selection Excel-type spreadsheet of his top 19 marriage-potential girlfriends (see: Thims thought experiment), comment directed to Thims, in respect to their at the time relationship, is as follows:
“I’ve never felt so full of life [alive].”— Melissa (c.1982), conversation with Libb Thims
This latter phrase “full of life”, in short, can be seen as a synonym for “alive”, the term alive, in this usage, thus being equated with a "measure of life", so to speak. This statement ever since has always been carried along in Thims' mind as a sort of unsolved puzzle. In other words what does to be "so full of life" mean? Variations of this statement had recurrently been expressed to Thims by a large percentage of the women in his relationships, and some of this puzzle found their way into Thims' circa 1995 usage of free energy differentials (dG) as a dissection tool to look at the problem in a new way, namely through chemical thermodynamics, similar to how Goethe, in his love thought experiment (see: Goethe thought experiment), analyzed his so-called Renouncers problem (see: Goethe timeline) of a hero being simultaneously in love with four woman in terms of affinity measures (or affinity force measures), namely through affinity chemistry, the precursor science to chemical thermodynamics.
If, however, we are advised to abandon this term (alive), in the post 2009 defunct theory of life "molecular-reaction" perspective of mental states of human existence, experience, and movement, or as English geneticist Francis Crick cogently put it:
“Let us abandon the word ‘alive’.”— Francis Crick, Of Molecules and Men (1966) 
what term are we to then use in its place to capture the above Thurman-Melissa usage? This is a difficult to "reinterpret" as German physicist Karl Pearson says:
“[If] these terms [‘unit-mass of living matter’, ‘resultant of organic forces’, ‘continuity of organic substance’, etc.], biologists have adopted from physics, are used figuratively, we ought to find them re-defined.”— Karl Pearson (1892), Grammar of Science 
term and as such the meaning behind the namesake "alive" is one of the hardest to reconcile in modern physical science terms.
See main: Life terminology upgradesThe following, to exemplify the difficulty involved in finding a suitable redefinition for the term "alive" that captures the visceral sense of the above Thurman-Melissa examples, shows the 10 May 2013 progress of the life terminology upgrade page:
● Birth → Reaction start
● Life → Reaction existence
● Death → Reaction end
● Living → Animate
● Alive → Reactive
● Biology → Chnopsology
● Living system → Chnopsological system
● Living matter → CHNOPS-based matter
● Died → Dereacted; Deboundstated
● Dead → Debounded; No reaction existence
● Lives → Goes (Thomas Huxley, 1880)
● Protoplasm → CHNOPS comprised entity (Edwin Hill, 1900; Anon, c.1915)
● Living substance → "CHNOPS plus systems" (Frank Thone, 1936)
● Life → Animate matter (Alfred Ubbelohde, 1954)
● Earth-based life forms → CHNOPS organisms (Harold Morowitz, 1968)
● Biochemistry → The study of ‘powered CHNOPS systems’ (Henry Swan, 1974)
● Life thermodynamics → Animate thermodynamics (Sture Nordholm, 1997)
● Biogenic elements → CHNOPS (National Academy of Science, 1998)
● The living perspective → The CHNOPS perspective (Paul Keddy, 2007)
● Life → Animate bound state reactive existence (Libb Thims, 2007)
The above table, indicating that a replacement link for alive has not yet been written, indicates clearly that the term "alive" is a difficult shoe to fill, as compared to other terms, more easily filled terms, such as birth, life, death—in other words, use of the term “reactive” does not exactly embody the above Thurman-Melissa usages, and is thus a difficult terminology issue in need of reconciliation.
Hirn | Positive and negative work
German physicist Gustave Hirn's 1868 Philosophical Implications of Thermodynamics , the subject headings of chapter two shown below:
§2.1: Application of the mechanical theory of animate heat engines.
§2.2: Sources of vital heat.
§2.3: Similarity of the organization Areas live with our engines.
§2.4: Positive and negative work to be alive.
§2.5: The first proposal of thermodynamics applied to these beings as our engines.
§2.6: Details on the physiological functions of animated motors.
§2.7: In what parts of the body consumes heat as much as to work."
was the first to address the question of applying thermodynamics to animals and people who he defined as "animate heat engines". Hirn's section on "positive and negative work to be alive" seems to the most fruitful in that he seems to be utilizing German physicist Rudolf Clausius' definition of positive work and negative work to explain human motion, whereby in the end the notion of "alive" becomes displaced as an unnecessary term.
|American debater Kate Shuster’s discussion of what constitutes the term alive, using the example of the virus, which according to American chemical engineer Linus Pauling is the “the simplest kind of matter thought to be alive”, but which, according to Pauling, can also be viewed as a large molecule (virus molecule) or type of reactive animate molecule capable of genetic reproduction in certain environments. |
In 1969, American chemical engineer Linus Pauling, stated his ambivalent view that the virus was generally thought to be the simplest kind of matter thought to be alive. 
“To illustrate the difficulty of defining a living organism, let us consider the the simplest kinds of matter thought to be alive. These are the viruses, such as the tomato busy stunt virus, which have the power of reproducing themselves in the appropriate environment.”
The following is a more recent example:
“Are viruses life forms? What counts as ‘alive’ is more complicated than you might think. An entity like a virus can survive without food or water while still reproducing its DNA by using hosts that it infects. But does this count as life? What are the characteristics that define something as alive?”— Kate Schuster (2008), Is There Other Life in the Universe?
Pauling goes on to conclude that if we require that living organisms also have the property of carrying out some metabolic reactions, then the plant viruses would be described simply as molecules (with molecular weight of the order of magnitude of 10,000,000) that have such a molecular structure as to permit them to catalyze a chemical reaction, in a proper medium, leading the synthesis of molecules identical with themselves.
● Defunct theory of life
1. Alive – Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (2000).
2. 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.
3. Shuster, Kate. (2008). Is There Other Life in the Universe? (§: What is Life?, pgs. 29-30). Heinemann-Raintree Library.
4. (a) Max Tegmark (faculty) – Space.MIT.edu.
(b) Science and the Big Questions – Templeton.org.
5. (a) Bailie, Gil. (1996). Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads (pg. xv). Crossroad Pub. Co.
(b) Howard Thurman – Wikipedia.
(c) Thurman, Howard. (c.1970). “What Do You Want, Really”, YouTube Audio.
6. Crick, Francis. (1966). Of Molecules and Men (pg. 5). University of Washington Press.
7. Pearson, Karl. (1892). The Grammar of Science (§9.1: The Relation of Biology to Physics, pgs. 328-31). Adam and Charles Black, 1900.
8. (a) Nernst, Walther. (1893). Theoretical Chemistry from the standpoint of Avogadro's rule and Thermodynamics (Theoretische Chemie vom Standpunkte der Avogadroschen Regel und der Thermodynamik). Stuttgart, F. Enke, 1893 [5th edition, 1923].
(b) Nernst, Walther. (1895). Theoretical Chemistry: from the Standpoint of Avogadro’s Rule & Thermodynamics (697-pages) (section: The Measure of Affinity, pgs. 586-88). MacMillan and Co.
(c) Nernst, Walther. (1904). Theoretical Chemistry: from the Standpoint of Avogadro’s Rule & Thermodynamics (771-pages). MacMillan and Co.
9. Thims, Libb. (2009). “Letter: Life a Defunct Scientific Theory”, Journal of Human Thermodynamics, Vol. 5, pgs. 20-21.