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Quote of the Week
(July 15, 2024)

It would help if we could get clear about the fact that there are two profound, and profoundly different, descriptive challenges posed by a cell’s impressively coherent activities. One has to do with the underlying physical and chemical processes. The other concerns the coordination of those processes as an expression of the organism’s needs and interests, intentions and meanings — its entire qualitative way of being. Severe confusions arise when we say that science must concern itself only with the first challenge, while assuming that the second one, if it can even legitimately be referred to, is automatically taken care of by our answer to the first ...

Is the entire matter really so vexing? The mystery of the unexpected coherence that molecular biologists confront, for example, in RNA splicing and DNA damage repair is, from a perfectly reasonable point of view, neither a mystery nor unexpected. The problem arises only at the moment when we unreasonably demand that an organism’s living performances be explained in an inanimate manner. Then, and only then, do we find it difficult to make sense of things.

(from Chapter 8, “The Mystery of an Unexpected Coherence”, in Organisms and Their Evolution — Agency and Meaning in the Drama of Life)

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