This is the name of a Montessori exercise for preschool children. It is their introduction to science, and it accurately reflects a dichotomy that Western Civilization has enjoyed since Aristotle.
I suggest that there are issues we face as a society for which this dichotomy loses its usefulness. Abortion being the most significant. This occurred to me over the weekend when my family and I watched the Imax film, The Human Body. (Also, super cool teaching aid available here.) The film literally shows an egg being fertilized. You see the tiniest embryo & fetus forming.
You also hear a mom talking about feeling the life within her. In contrast to the never-before-seen nature of the pictures of blood and cells, this is striking because it is familiar.
I’ve always felt that the notion that life begins at conception or birth is silly. I’ve always felt that it had to begin somewhere in between these markers. I think it is better to realize that life does not begin. Nature is more complex than that.
Of course, this frustrates the hell out of the law that is always looking for neat Aristotelian divisions. I suppose it is one reason I think the law is not capable of regulating this area of human life.
NOTE: How do you know when life begins? is one of the six questions I put out in cards at coffee shops as Discussion Starters. Now, I wonder if it is badly phrased.