THE NATURE OF LIFE
Written by Dr. Nash Popovic
From the Synthesis perspective, the body is the material aspect of a living system that consists, on a macro level, of relatively slow but very densely packed energy. This is why physical sensations (e.g. pain, hunger) can have such a strong effect.
The body enables physical life, but itself is not alive. It is a part of a living system for as long as it is coupled with the soul. To say that the body dies feels counter-intuitive, because deep down we know that it has never lived. We take the view that physical bodies are extremely complex organic instruments. Materialists make a similar claim, but this is inconsistent within their framework. They seem to ignore the facts that instruments are always built with a purpose and their working has to be externally initiated (at least the working of the first one that may then self-replicate). This inconsistency is avoided here as we take the position that life is indeed purposeful, as discussed in the part The Meaning. We shall say, though, a few more words specifically about the purpose of the body.
The purpose of the body: the body makes existence in the physical world possible and holds the soul grounded, which enables its rudimentary shaping. Its role is also to stabilise and protect – from the volatile tendencies of non-material energy on the one hand, and an excessive amount of input, on the other. Regarding the former, although bodies allow various degrees of proactivity, they also restrict the actions of an organism. About the input, the physical senses are the first instance of selecting what we are going to be aware of. Without this, we would be like a TV receiver that picks up all the available transmitting signals at the same time; they would not produce information, but a meaningless noise. So besides enabling interaction with the environment, the body also creates the boundaries that are needed until the non-material aspect is capable of self-control. This ‘narrowing’ of the soul is necessary to facilitate a gradual development – the body restricts in order to allow controlled expansion and growth.
The contribution to development: an interesting fact is that the brain is allowed to use an extraordinary amount of energy relative to its size. In humans, as much as 30% of the body’s resting energy expenditure (oxygen and glucose) is due to the brain, while its mass accounts for around 3% of one’s weight – ten times more than its share. No other part of the body comes close to such a privileged position, which strongly indicates that biological evolution is geared towards the development of the brain. It seems that the body exists to support the brain, not the other way around. This is congruent with common sense: if you had to choose, would you rather be without the body and retain the brain, or without the brain and retain the body?
 We will see that the mind has a similar purpose but with more flexible boundaries.