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The basic etymology of the word "survive", from late Middle English: from Old French sourvivre, from Latin supervivere, from super- ‘in addition’ + vivere ‘live’[1], meaning: super "vis viva", or super vitalism, or "vis of Venus", beyond the force of life already given by the goddess Venus.

In terms, survival (LH:2), from Latin: super-, meaning: "in addition, extra, or above", + -vivere, meaning: "live"[1], from Roman mythology: "vis of Venus", from Egyptian mythology: "ankh of Hathor"[2], + -al, meaning: "of, related to, or characterized by", renders, in colloquial meaning, as: living or continuing longer than another person, thing, or species.[3] Survival, etymologically, is a vitalism based term. The term "survival", which became popular after Darwin (1859), via Spencer (1864), in short, is in need of life terminology reform. Compare: survive.



On 12 Nov 1859, Charles Darwin published his On the Origin of Species: by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life (AB:7), in which he employed the term "natural selection" as the mechanism by which "species", or the "favored" races, as he defined things, are preserved in the "struggle for life".[4] Darwin, in this book, did NOT, however, use the term "survive" or "survival" one time!

In 1864, Herbert Spencer, who was working to reconcile science and religion, and who also had some rather objectionable new "definitions of life", which triggered a number of back-reactions[2], convinced Darwin, via a suggestion by Alfred Wallace, who wrote to Darwin about this in 1866 about Spencer's terminology, and how the premise of nature being a thing that "selects" is too anthropomorphic or theological in conception, or something to this effect, and suggested that that the following terminology, developed by Spencer, would be better:

Darwin absorbed this suggestion, and two years later gave the term "survival of the fittest" his blessing:

“This preservation, during the ‘battle for life’, of varieties which possess any advantage in structure, constitution, or instinct, I have called ‘natural selection’; and Herbert Spencer has well expressed the same idea by the ‘survival of the fittest’. The term natural selection is in some respects a bad one, as it seems to imply ‘conscious’ choice; but this will be disregarded after a little familiarity.”
Charles Darwin (1868), The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication (pg. 6)[5]

The following is the result, as evidenced by the nGram view of the libraries the world:[6]

Survival (NGram).png


The term "survival", as the nGram view shows above, was basically a trivial term, prior to Spencer (1864) and Darwin's adoption (1868) of Spencer's terminology. Etymologically, the English term "survival", according to Merriam-Webster, originated in 1598, defined as: "a living or continuing longer than another person or thing; the continuation of life or existence".[3]

The Latin origin and decoded Latin roots of "survive" are shown below:[7]

English Latin Meaning Roman myth-meaning Greek myth-meaning Egyptian myth-meaning Astro-theology
Survive Super vivere Super vita
(Super vitalism)
Additional vis of Venus
(extra vis viva)
Super-force of Aphrodite Extra ankh-power of Hathor Extra milk (or light) of the Milky Way

The term "survive", in short, means: super, additional, or extra "vis" of Venus, or vis, in addition to the vis, one had already obtained from Venus (or Aphrodite or Hathor or the light of the Milky Way), beyond those of the "less favored races", as Darwin or Spencer phrases things. Here we have a case of mythical terminology used to explain a natural phenomena.



In 1991, Robert Pirsig, objecting from the atheistical side, in his Lila: an Inquiry into Morals, objects, very-cogently, to "survive" as follows:[8]

Life’s just an extension of atoms, nothing more, it has to be that because atoms and varying forms of energy are all there is … At the time of [the] origin [of evolution theory] it wasn’t yet understood that at the level of photons and electrons and other small particles the laws of cause and effect no longer apply; that electrons and photons simply appear and disappear without individual predictability and without cause. So today we have as a result a theory of evolution in which ‘man’ is ruthlessly controlled by the cause-and-effect laws of the universe while the particles of his body are not. The absurdity of this seems neglected? The problem doesn’t lie in anyone’s department. Physicists can ignore it because they are not concerned with man. Social scientists can ignore it because they are not concerned with subatomic particles.
But right from the beginning, substance-caused evolution has always had a puzzling aspect that has never been able to eliminate. It goes into many volumes about how the fittest ‘survive’ but never once answers the question of why?
This is the sort of irrelevant-sounding question that seems minor at first, and the mind looks for a quick answer to dismiss it. It sounds like one of those hostile, ignorant questions some fundamentalist preacher might think up. But why do the fittest survive? Why does any life survive? It's illogical. It's self-contradictory that ‘life’ should survive. If life is strictly a result of the physical and chemical forces of nature then why is life opposed to these same forces in its struggle to survive? Either life is with physical nature [natural] or it's against it. If it's with nature there's nothing to survive. If it's against physical nature [unnatural] then there must be something apart from the physical and chemical forces of nature that is motivating it to be against physical nature. The second law of thermodynamics states that all energy systems ‘run down’ like a clock and never rewind themselves. But life not only ‘runs up,’ converting low energy sea-water, sunlight and air into high-energy chemicals, it keeps multiplying itself into more and better clocks that keep ‘running up’ faster and faster.
Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and nitrogen (N), ‘struggle’ for billions of years to organize themselves into a professor of chemistry?[9] What's the motive?
If we leave a chemistry professor out on a rock in the sun long enough the forces of nature will convert him into simple compounds of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, and small amounts of other minerals. It's a one-way reaction. No matter what kind of chemistry professor we use and no matter what process we use we can't turn these compounds back into a chemistry professor. Chemistry professors are unstable mixtures of predominantly unstable compounds which, in the exclusive presence of the sun's heat, decay irreversibly into simpler organic and inorganic compounds. That's a scientific fact.
The question is: Then why does nature reverse this process? What on earth causes the inorganic compounds to go the other way? It isn't sun's energy. We just saw what the sun's energy did. It has to something else. What is it?”

Why does "life survive"? Why do the "fittest survive"? Here, we see Pirsig grappling with not only with conflicting theory confusion (Clausius' 1865 entropy vis Darwin's 1859 evolution), but also with terminology confusion (why atoms should want to increase their vis of Venus?).


In 2002, John Brey, objecting from the theological side, in his Tautological Oxymorons: Deconstructing Scientific Materialism, gave the following objection:[10]

“Our bodies represent a particular ‘state of entropy’. I our bodies were destroyed, the energy would now be in a new state of entropy. The point is that our physical body represents energy in a particular entropic state. While the heart is beating, the body guards its low entropy state, and when the heart stops beating, the entropy of the body rapidly increases as the energy (within the body) tries to find equilibrium with the environment outside the body. When we speak of ‘survival’, we are speaking of the desire to protect a low state of entropy, whether we’re speaking of the universe itself, or a human body. But if ‘survival’ has positive meaning, then it would appear that low states of entropy are more desirable than high states of entropy, since all that is truly ‘survived’ is rising entropy.
Why should low states of entropy be ‘good’, so that we guard low states of entropy with our life? And if low states of entropy are preferable to high states of entropy, wasn’t the universe at its best, at or before the big bang, and won’t it be at its worst at the heat death where entropy is in an absolutely ‘high’ state. Therefore, isn’t the universe going from ‘good’ to ‘bad’—from a low state of entropy, to a high state of entropy. Now if ‘survival’ is good, then the universe is bad, for the universe will not survive the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the universe will eventually find itself in a state that is the antithesis of ‘survival’ (where survival is the retention of low entropy). If the universe is bad, then so is the human body, since inevitably the human body will not survive the second law of thermodynamics.”

Here, similar to Pirsig, we see some good argument. Brey's argument, however, takes us far the territory that Pirsig digs at. While Pirsig's objection is more intelligent, Brey's statement draws us into manifold corrections. Human bodies to not represent a particular "state of entropy", but rather a particular state of "formation energy", in which entropy is subsumed into the Gibbs energy function. Corrections beyond this, will require several chapters of discussion (many of which have yet to be penned).[11][2] Nevertheless, corrections aside, we do see Brey, in his attempt to grapple with the terms: good, bad, in respect to survival and second law, attempting to dig our the rot of the problem, so to say.


The following are related quotes:

“But when thy science lifts her pinions, In speculation’s wild dominions. I treasure every dictum thou emittest; While down the stream of evolution, we drift (6), and look for no solution. But that of survival of the fittest (7), till in that twilight of the gods. When earth and sun are frozen clods (13). When, all its matter degraded (8), matter in aether shall have faded. We, that is, all the ‘work we’ve done’ (9), as ‘waves in aether’, shall for ever run (16). In swift expanding spheres, through heavens beyond the sun.”
James Maxwell (1878), “A Paradoxical Ode: After Shelley”[12]
Atheism gives us very good reasons to doubt the truth of any of our beliefs, bearing in mind that those beliefs are purely the result of matter and energy, unguided by any higher intelligence or scope (God), which is what naturalism (atheism) presupposes. There is no reason why a mindless evolutionary process centered only on survival is meant to produce beings capable of discovering truth, for the simple reason that evolution is not concerned in the very slightest with truth.”
— Alvin Plantinga (1993), Publication (pg. #)[13]
“As the ‘accidental evolutionist’ theory has been expanding over the last 100 years, it has been merged with ‘big bang’ and ‘primordial soup’ theories. Combined these ancillary theories, the accidental evolution theory now states that following the big bang, life spontaneously arose from chemicals. What is curious is that these chemicals somehow supposedly developed the desire to ‘survive’. Have we ever observed any lifeless chemicals develop a desire to survive? Have we ever seen chemicals doing anything but predictably reacting to each other? In other words, the accidental evolution theory says that out of lifeless chemicals single-celled living creatures have arisen, miraculously displaying a desire to survive. A desire to survive means having a need to improve survival factors and eliminate threats to survival. The need to improve survival means there is an intention to survive, and a value is put onto survival. Eliminating the threats to survival means survival is valued enough to put an effort into changing, adapting to, or destroying potential encroachments and dangers that could shorten life. These factors compound the problem presented: how could lifeless chemicals develop the ability to even recognize life, let alone value life enough to take persistent action to sustain it.”
— C.W. Adams (2006), “How could Chemicals have a Desire to Survive” [14]
“Once upon a time, one molecule, scudding in a primordial ocean, suddenly and absolutely accidentally met another cute molecule. They decided to bind to each other and scud together, and found that they acquired a new property, which gave them a better chance to survive in that rough and unfriendly primordial ocean. During the next billions of years, these molecules met many other attractive molecules (of course, absolutely accidentally) and combined with many of them, creating a big conglomerate of molecules. This conglomerate again absolutely accidentally discovered that it can create similar little baby conglomerates by simple division and that is how a primordial organic complex or protein or nucleic acid was created. They then absolutely accidentally found each other in the primordial ocean, combined and created a small syndicate that acquired many new and very useful properties for survival and we now call it a ‘cell’. Accidental and random combinations of molecules can neither create a car nor a human being or even a simple one-celled organism with a certain ‘directing power’ that can transform originally inanimate matter into numerous forms of life.”
Nickolas Dorfman (2008), Was Mona Lisa Created by Physicochemical Reactions Alone? (pg. 4)[15]
“Since the dawn of human history, life has battled for survival, with human beings evolving to dominate this process on planet earth. For to be human, is to know unequivocally that one day you will die and it is this truth which has precipitated a passion for knowledge and the pursuit of immortality initially through divine methods but more recently through scientific endeavor. Human knowledge is a fractured system of investigation born out of mathematics, literacy and imagery. These axioms are often so different that knowledge has remained divided and a cross fertilization of ideas is rendered almost impossible. Through the modern science of human thermodynamics, carbon entromorphology has emerged as a major contender for a unified model of the mind and the conscious observer. It relates all knowledge together producing powerful new systems of understanding taking human evolution into new and breathtaking areas. It is the science of the 21st century and will almost certainly stand up to challenge current thinking on life and the prospect for a more stable and peaceful future for all humanity.”
— Mark Janes (2012), Mr Carbon Atom and the Theory of Carbon Entromorphology (summary, back cover) [16]
“In an uncertain society such as today, building solid relationships seems almost a utopia. But are we really doomed to loneliness? Can't we do anything to counter this spontaneous tendency to disorder? The good news: nature has been working for millions of centuries to save us by investing in communication. When sexual differentiation forced our ancestors to invest energy in mating to ensure the survival of the species, those who were able to communicate best won large offspring. Starting from this premise, the author takes us on an exciting journey through time, and shows us how they changed the bodies of hominids to adapt to the preferences of their partners: protruding lips, harmonious shapes, visible genitals and fascinating minds. Perhaps, however, the most surprising innovation was the appearance of language: a tool capable not only of transmitting information, but also of telling wonderful stories and seducing the partner.”
Sebastia Serrano (2014), Thermodynamics of Love (abs) [17]
“How can you explain consciousness and our ability to think beyond survival.”
— Mammer55 (2020), “Goethe model”, Reddit question [18]

End matter

See also

  • Struggle for entropy[19]
  • Struggle for existence[20]
  • Struggle for free energy[21]
  • Survival of the fittest
  • Struggle to survive


  1. 1.0 1.1 Survive - Google Dictionary.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Thims, Libb. (66AE). Abioism: No Thing is Alive, On the Non-Existence of Life (pdf). Publisher.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Survival – Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary.
  4. Darwin, Charles. (1859). Origin of the Species: by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. Murray.
  5. Darwin, Charles. (1868). The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication (pg. 6). Publisher.
  6. Survival – nGram.
  7. (a) Survive - Google Dictionary.
    (b) God character rescripts – Hmolpedia 2020.
  8. Pirsig, Robert. (1991). in his Lila: an Inquiry into Morals (pgs. 161-62). Bantam, 2012.
  9. Chemistry professor paradox – Hmolpedia 2020.
  10. Brey, John D. (2002). Tautological Oxymorons: Deconstructing Scientific Materialism: an Ontotheological Approach (quote, pgs. 44-45; thermodynamics, 21+ pgs). iUniverse.
  11. Thims, Libb. (66AE). Human Chemical Thermodynamics: Chemical Thermodynamics of People (§:) (pdf). Publisher.
  12. A Paradoxical Ode – Hmolpedia 2020.
  13. (a) Evolutionary argument against naturalism– Wikipedia.
    (b) Jinn, Bo. (2013). Illogical Atheism: a Comprehensive Response to the Contemporary Freethinker from a Lapsed Agnostic (eB) (loc. 1979). Sattwa Publishing, 2014.
  14. Adams, C.W. (2006). Actuality: Life in the Real World (§:How could Chemicals have a Desire to Survive, pgs. 84-85; §:Chemicals Cannot Decide to Extend Their Successor’s Lives”, pgs. 86-87). Publisher.
  15. Dorfman, Nikolas. (2008). Was Mona Lisa Created by Physicochemical Reactions Alone? Open Your Mind and Use Your Logic. (pg. 4). iUniverse.
  16. Janes, Mark A. (2012). Mr Carbon Atom and the Theory of Carbon Entromorphology (GB) (Amz). Emp3books.
  17. Serrano, Sebastia. (2014). Thermodynamics of Love: How to Save Relationships by Investing in Communication (Termodinamica dell’amore: Come salvare i rapporti di coppia investendo nella comunicazione) (termodinamica, 5+ pgs). Edizioni Dedalo.
  18. Thims, Libb. (66AE). “Goethe model”, r/Hmolpedia, Jul 29
  19. Struggle for entropy – Hmolpedia 2020.
  20. Struggle for existence – Hmolpedia 2020.
  21. Struggle for free energy – Hmolpedia 2020.

External links

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