Vegetable Individuality: The Organismal Self

  • Lucas John Mix


Organismal unity has always been a third thing, between physics and mind. In the twentieth century, biologists proposed regulation and replication, reflecting nutrition and reproduction, as defining features of life. Recent discoveries show that the two categories yield different answers when we try to identify individuals. The mechanical philosophy and Darwinian population thinking lead to pragmatic, non-exclusive and context dependent definitions of organisms: a biological nominalism. Such arbitrary formal causes create a departure from Aristotle. The intertwined character of organisms makes linguistic and conceptual clarity important. Godfrey-Smith’s Darwinian populations and Millikan’s historical kinds provide insights into how to find linguistic and conceptual clarity amidst the overlapping processes.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucas John Mix
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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