Every organism is an entity in which certain ideas and intentions are manifest — observably expressed and realized. We have to be willing to say, as everyone does say, “This cell is preparing to divide.” We would never say (as I mentioned earlier), “This planet is preparing to make another circuit of the sun.” The organism obviously gives us a reality different from planets and suns. Shouldn’t this manifest difference be front and center in the biologist’s attention — all the more if there exists a prejudicial urge to approach biological explanation solely in the causal style we bring to planets and suns?
I am fully aware that what I have just said comes at the contemporary scientist from a strange and, at this point, probably objectionable, direction. But perhaps this initial statement will at least intrigue some readers. We will pursue the ideas further throughout the remainder of the book.Stephen L. Talbott, “Biology’s Missing Ideas” at Evolution as it Was Meant to Be: A work in progress
Hat tip: Philip Cunningham
See also: What if there is no genetics apart from epigenetics? Talbott: Not that the gene sequences are themselves mutated in the usual sense. Rather, the researchers found that various epigenetic modifications in the hippocampus alter the way the genes work (Weaver et al. 2004).
Life forms have a story but rocks don’t Talbott: An animal’s end-directed activity may, of course, be very far from what we humans know as conscious aiming at a goal. But all such activity nevertheless displays certain common features distinguishing it from inanimate proceedings