The professor of my Virology MOOC, Vincent Racaniello, spent the first couple of lectures drilling us on how viruses are completely inanimate, are not even alive (depending on how you define "alive"), and definitely can't think or strategize. This week's lectures have been about how viruses get inside cells and how they avoid attaching to the wrong things or being eaten by stuff inside the cell before they are where they need to be. Each time he describes one of the methods he says "It's really a brilliant strategy." (And he's right. I don't believe in a creator deity, so I think it's a strategy not developed on purpose by any consciousness, but it's a strategy, and it's brilliant.)
The professor of my MOOC "A Brief History of Humankind" theorized that Stone Age humans mostly practiced animism, a spiritual system in which everything in the environment is considered to be alive and to have personality, goals, to be able to communicate, etc.
It certainly does seem that animistic metaphors and ways of thinking are built into the language I speak.This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/822633.html, where there are comments. I prefer that you comment on Dreamwidth, but it's also OK to comment here.