The Organism’s Story
This is a preliminary draft of one chapter of a book-in-progress
tentatively entitled, “Evolution As It Was Meant To Be — And the Living Narratives That Tell Its Story”.
You will find
a fairly lengthy article serving as a kind of extended abstract of major
parts of the book. This material is part of the
Biology Worthy of Life
Project. Copyright 2017-2021
The Nature Institute.
All rights reserved. Original publication: January 22, 2019.
Last revision: February 12, 2020.
Organisms are purposive (“teleological”) beings. Nothing could be more
obvious. The fact of the matter is so indisputable that even those who
don’t believe it really do believe it. Philosopher of biology Robert Arp
speaks for biology as a whole when he writes,
Thinkers cannot seem to get around [evolutionary biologist Robert]
Trivers’ claim that “even the humblest creature, say, a virus, appears
organized to do something; it acts as if it is trying to achieve
some purpose”, or [political philosopher Larry] Arnhart’s observation that
… “Reproduction, growth, feeding, healing, courtship, parental care
for the young — these and many other activities of organisms are
And yet, despite his acknowledgment that we “cannot get around” this
truth, Arp again speaks for almost the entire discipline of biology when
he tries, with some delicacy, to take it all back: “with respect to
organisms, it is useful to think as if these entities have traits
and processes that function in goal-directed ways” (his emphasis). This
as if is a long-running cliché, designed to warn us that the
organism’s purposive behavior is somehow deceptive — not quite what it
seems. The goal-directedness is, in the conventional terminology, merely
apparent or illusory. Certainly it must not be seen as
having any relation at all to human purposive activity — an odd insistence
given how eager so many biologists are to make sure we never forget that
the human being is “just another animal”.
Others have commented on this strange,
to acknowledge fully the purposiveness that is there for all to see. The
philosopher of science, Karl Popper, said that “The fear of using
teleological terms reminds me of the Victorian fear of speaking about
Popper may have had in mind a famous remark by his friend and
twentieth-century British evolutionary theorist, J. B. S. Haldane, who
once quipped that “Teleology is like a mistress to a biologist; he cannot
live without her but he’s unwilling to be seen with her in
We find — and will later explore further — this same unwilling yet
inescapable conviction of purposiveness at the foundations of evolutionary
theory. The theory, we are often told, is supposed to explain away the
organism’s purposes — “naturalize” them, as those who claim to speak for
nature like to say. But at the same time the theory is itself said to be
grounded solidly in the fact that organisms, unlike rocks, thunderstorms,
and solar systems, struggle to survive and reproduce. If they did
not spend their entire lives striving toward an end, or telos, in
this way, natural selection of the fittest organisms (those best qualified
to survive and reproduce) could not occur. So it is not at all clear how
selection is supposed to explain the origin of such end-directed behavior.
A double and conflicted stance toward end-directedness — believing and not
believing, acknowledging and explaining away — constitutes, you could
almost say, the warp and woof of biology itself. Look for “purpose” in
the index of any biological textbook, and you will almost certainly be
disappointed. That term, along with others such as “meaning” and “value”,
is effectively banned. There is something like a taboo against it.
Yet, in striking self-contradiction, those textbooks are themselves
structured according to the purposive activities, or tasks, of organisms.
Biologists are always working to narrate goal-directed achievements. How
is DNA replicated? How do cells divide? How does metabolism supply
energy for living activity? How are circadian rhythms established and
maintained? How do animals arrive at the evolutionary strategies or games
or arms races through which they try to eat and avoid being eaten?
Such questions are endless, and their defining role is reflected on every
page of every textbook on development, physiology or evolution. A
research question is biological, as opposed to physical or
chemical, only when it is posed in one way or another by the organism’s
purposive, future-oriented activity. The puzzle is that the answers
biologists are willing to offer, on the other hand, are rooted with equal
consistency in the assumption that organisms have no purposes. The
reigning conviction is that explanations of physical and chemical
means effectively remove any need to deal scientifically with the
ends that alone could have prompted our search for means in the
As we saw in
those people afflicted with the curious phenomenon called
lack a conscious power to see some things despite showing a real
awareness, in certain circumstances, of whatever they have failed to see.
typically arises from brain damage. What I have called “the biologist’s
on the other hand, is more a matter of philosophical distaste and
consequent repression. And one way to repress distasteful content is to
“rediscover” it somewhere less threatening. This happens when, through
the language of mechanism, biological purpose is projected upon the
machines with which organisms are identified. Or, in the case of
evolutionary theory, the organism’s purposive activity is transferred to
natural selection, seen as a purposive agent
My larger argument in this book will be that the biologist’s conscious
commitment to purely physical and chemical descriptions — which is to say,
her conscious refusal of much that she actually knows — has devastating
effects upon many fields of biological understanding, and particularly
evolutionary theory. It hardly needs emphasizing that if organisms
really are purposive beings — if the fact of purposive activity is not an
illusion — then a biological science so repulsed by the idea of purpose
that its practitioners must avert their eyes at the very mention of it
… well, it appears that these practitioners must feel threatened at
a place they consider foundational. And with some justification, for to
admit what they actually know about organisms would be to turn upside down
and inside out much of the science to which they have committed their
“Purpose” — an idea that will need careful qualification in different
biological contexts — gives us but one of several intimately related
avenues of approach to what is distinctive about the life of organisms.
In the remainder of this chapter I will briefly sketch a few of these
Organisms are agents capable of
pursuing their own meanings
Organisms are agents; they do things. The difference between a
motionless rock, on one hand, and a motionless cat on the other is that
the cat is not merely motionless; it is resting, or perhaps
preparing to pounce. When it ceases doing things, it is no longer
alive. Whereas a rock may be moved by impinging forces, the cat
itself moves. In our routine experience we take self-motivated
activity to be definitive of living things. If an object moves
unexpectedly — without an evident external cause — we immediately begin
testing the assumption that it is living.
When an animal responds to a physical stimulus, its response is not in any
strict way physically enforced, or directly caused, by the stimulus.
Rather, the animal “reads” the meaning of the situation in light of its
own concerns, including its needs and interests, and then alters that
meaning by responding to it. If the animal is physically moved by
a stimulus, as when a rolling stone bumps into a leg, we don’t consider
the movement to be the organism’s own act. It is not a response,
but merely a physically caused result.
As a useful picture of this, we need only consider how the negligible
force producing an image on the retina — say, the image of a charging lion
— can set the entire mass of a quarter-ton wildebeest into thundering
motion. The impelling force comes from within, so that the movement seems
to originate within the animal itself in a way that we do not see in
The wildebeest is not forcibly moved by a physical impact, but rather
perceives something. Further, its perception is at the same time
an interpretation of its surroundings from its own point of view
and in light of its own world of meaning. The “lawfulness” at issue here,
such as it is, is far from being universal. It differs radically from one
living being to another, so that the retinal image of a charging lion
means a very different thing to the wildebeest from what it means to
another lion or to a vulture circling overhead. And it produces an
altogether different response in these cases.
All this may seem trivially obvious — and so it is. We make sense of
biological activity in terms of meanings radically different from the
meanings we bring to inanimate events. But this only renders more
poignant biologists’ futile desire to pursue their explanatory
tasks as if there were no such radical distinction between the animate and
Nevertheless, we all find it difficult to conceal or deny what we know.
So despite the biologist’s attempted disavowal of what is distinctively
biological in her science, the truth comes out in a thousand ways, and
above all in the choice of language. The words employed for description
of animate activity differ dramatically from those applied to inanimate
Think, for example, of a living dog, then of its decomposing corpse. At
the moment of death, all the living processes normally studied by the
biologist rapidly disintegrate. The corpse remains subject to the same
laws of inanimate nature as the live dog. But now, with the cessation of
life, we see those laws strictly in their own terms, without reference to
life. The dramatic change in our descriptive language as we move between
the living and the dead speaks more loudly than any philosophical
convictions we may have about life and death.
No biologist who had been studying the behavior of the living dog
will concern herself with the corpse’s “behavior”. Nor will she refer to
certain physical changes in the corpse as reflexes, just as she
will never mention the corpse’s responses to stimuli, or the
functions of its organs, or the processes of development
being undergone by the decomposing tissues.
Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells
during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the
fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being
regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper
chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other
molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying
signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures
recognizing signals. Code, information, and
communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared
from the scientist’s vocabulary.
The corpse will not produce errors in chromosome replication or in
any other processes, and neither will it attempt error
correction or the repair of damaged parts. More generally,
the ideas of injury and healing will be absent. No
structures will inherit features from parent structures in the way
that daughter cells inherit traits or tendencies from their parents, and
no one will cite the plasticity or context-dependence of the
corpse’s adaptation to its environment.
The language highlighted here is clearly a language of more-than-physical
meaning. When investigators do their best to ignore these additional
layers of meaning — for example, when they present their findings as
if everything were “naturalistic”, or as if their task were
merely to elucidate physical and chemical interactions — then they are
contradicting just about all their own biological descriptions.
It is not that conventional approaches are inadequate in their own,
limited terms. We can be sure that everything being described makes
perfect sense, and that the physical picture reveals no mysterious gaps.
It’s just that, within the arbitrarily imposed limits of physical and
chemical description, we will see no living activity. The “naturalistic”
presentations characterize only those aspects of the animal’s body that
continue uninterrupted, according to exactly the same laws, when it dies.
If we restricted our understanding to this characterization, death
would not even be a recognizable event.
Of course, in a split-personality
sort of way every biologist does recognize death, because she recognizes
the distinctive sorts of meaning, including the perceptions, purposes,
intentions, and responses, that the once-living dog is no longer
expressing. It’s just that she typically refuses to let the expressive
aspects of the creature’s life become uncomfortably explicit, or to
influence fundamental theory. Or, when they do affect theory, it must be
the organism’s physical activity, not its interior life as a perceptive
and intentional actor, that enters into scientific consideration. Like
the behaviorists of old, we are forbidden to accept the inner, immaterial,
and immediately given reality of perceptions and intentions, as
opposed to various associated physical manifestations.
The end is more constant than
the means of attaining it
William McDougall, who lived from 1871 to 1938, was a highly respected (if
also rather controversial) British psychologist who, after teaching at
Oxford, spent the latter part of his career in the United States. He
authored widely used textbooks of psychology and, for several years,
occupied William James’ chair at Harvard. Then he moved to Duke
University where, with J. B. Rhine, he founded the Parapsychology
Laboratory. Our present interest, however, is in a 1929 work, where
McDougall usefully summarized certain typical features of purposive
(McDougall 1929, pp. 50-1).
He was writing about human behavior, but we can recognize these features
in all purposive behavior, conscious or otherwise:
• Goal-directed activity tends to be persistent and may be
repeatedly renewed even after being effectively blocked for a time. If
you tie up your hungry dog at some distance from its food bowl, it may
cease straining at the leash. But as soon as you grant it freedom, it
will again head for the bowl.
• Goal-directed activity is very often adaptable to one degree
or another. If one strategy fails, the organism may vary it or switch to
a different strategy. As many dog owners have discovered after forgetting
to give Fido his food, their beloved pet may contrive to enjoy the freshly
roasted chicken on the kitchen counter.
• And, as soon as the goal is reached, that particular goal-directed
activity ceases. Having had its fill, your dog may want to play or
else to sleep. But it will not continue its quest for food.
We do not find the same combination of features in the inanimate world.
Yet anyone who interacts with animals takes them for granted. Moreover,
analogous features are evident even in physiological activity, all the way
down to the molecular biology of the cell. In its development “the embryo
seems to be resolved to acquire a certain form and structure, and to be
capable of overcoming very great obstacles placed in its path”. When
encountering such an obstacle to its development, the organism “adjusts
itself to the changed conditions, and, in virtue of some obscure directive
power, sets itself once more upon the road to its goal; which under the
altered conditions it achieves only by means of steps that are different,
sometimes extremely different, from the normal”
(McDougall 1911, pp. 242-3).
When a cell is preparing to divide, it passes through what are known as
internal “checkpoints”, where the cell responds to the presence or absence
of conditions necessary for a successful division. If something is awry,
the cell may persist in the aim of dividing by taking any
corrective (adaptive) action that happens to be within its power.
It then proceeds with its division, and ceases the entire, highly
coordinated and complex activity once the process is complete. (And when
division is inadvisable — say, because chromosomes have been irreversibly
damaged too badly — the cell may proceed toward a larger end, whereby its
distinct existence ceases and its resources are offered up to the rest of
the organism of which it is a part.)
No one will bristle upon hearing that “this cell is preparing to divide”.
But we would certainly bristle if we heard that “Mars is preparing to make
another journey around the sun”, or “the nebula has ceased its effort
after forming the solar system”. A planet moves according to universal
laws acting in an unchanging manner. There is no point in its journey
when an act is initiated or concluded, but only the playing
out of the immediately preceding forces. There is in this sense nothing
new to explain. Biological explanation, by contrast, always involves
something new, an element of initiative, a response to circumstances not
fully necessitated by the preceding play of physical and chemical
Here’s another illustration, drawn from the great English physiologist,
Sir Charles Scott Sherrington, writing in 1922. He is talking about what
happens when, in some animals, a motor nerve is severed and the portion
running from the point of severance to the muscle dies. The living end of
the nerve immediately embarks upon a meaningful and unfathomably complex
The fibre, so to say, tries to grow out to reach to its old far-distant
muscle. There are difficulties in its way. A multitude of non-nervous
repair cells growing in the wound spin scar tissue across the new fibre’s
path. Between these alien cells the new nerve-fibre threads a tortuous
way, avoiding and never joining any of them. This obstruction it may take
many days to traverse. Then it reaches a region where the sheath-cells of
the old dead nerve-fibres lie altered beyond ordinary recognition. But
the growing fibre recognises them. Tunnelling through endless chains of
them, it arrives finally, after weeks or months, at the wasted
muscle-fibres which seem to have been its goal, for it connects with them
at once. It pierces their covering membranes and re-forms with their
substance junctions of characteristic pattern resembling the original that
had died weeks or months before. Then its growth ceases, abruptly, as it
began, and the wasted muscle recovers and the lost function is
Here we see again goal-directed persistence over a long period,
adaptability in the face of obstacles, and cessation of this particular
activity when its end is achieved.
Notice also Sherrington’s careful caveat (“so to say”) whereby he
qualifies the easily anthropomorphized phrase, “tries to grow”.
The care and the qualification are fully justified. But the fact is that
such phrasing is pervasive and seemingly unavoidable whenever the
researcher would offer informative biological descriptions. This suggests
that we owe it to the discipline of biology to explore the nature of our
own usage. It pays to know what we are really saying, rather than
leaving it in a vague and ambiguous cloud of suggestion. Throughout this
book we will touch on some of the problems we run into when employing the
language of purposiveness, goals, and intentions.
E. S. Russell, a British marine biologist whose writings during the first
half of the twentieth century can sometimes seem more up-to-date regarding
the decisive issues of twenty-first century biology than the literature of
our own day, summarized the gist of the foregoing discussion with
wonderful succinctness: “The end-state is more constant than the method of
(Russell 1945, p. 110).
This suggests that the end-state, understood as somehow implicit in the
entire drama leading up to it, plays something like a causal role. It
reminds one of the way a well-considered conclusion is implicit in the
profound, multivalent play of thought leading up to it, rather than being
the mere passive outcome of a deterministic march of machine logic. (For
a fuller treatment of this, see Chapter 0, “Form and Cause in Biology”.)
Surely any such causal dimensions involving end-states would have large
implications for a science determined to unravel physical and chemical
means while pretending to ignore the ends that express the meaning of the
Every organism is narrating
a meaningful life story
The fact of purposive activity; the obvious play of an active agency; the
coordination of diverse means toward the realization of countless
interwoven and relatively stable ends; the undeniable evidence that
animals perceive a world, interpreting and responding to perceptions
according to their own way of life; and the coherence of all this activity
in a governing unity — this tell us that every organism is narrating a
meaningful life story. This is not something that a rock, say, loosened
by ice and tumbling down the steep slope of a mountain ravine, does in
anything like the same manner. The pattern of physical events in the
organism is raised by its peculiar sort of coherence toward something like
a biography whose “logic” unfolds on an entirely different level from the
logic of inanimate physical causation. When we tell a story, the narrative
threads convey the meanings of a life — for example, motives, needs, and
intentions — and these are never a matter of mere physical cause and
So when I speak of the organism’s wise and knowing agency, or its
purposive striving, I refer, among other things, to its capacity to
weave, out of the resources of its own life, the kind of biological
narrative we routinely observe, with its orchestration of physical events
in the service of the organism’s own meanings.
We normally feel every birth as a new beginning, full of hope and
expectation — a beginning of a sort we do not experience in the genesis of
a raindrop or dust devil. Even the first shoot of a bean or squash seed,
pushing upward through the soil surface, is the prelude to a narrative
promising many vicissitudes — engagements with insects and diseases,
complex communal relations with other plants, and confrontations with
nurturing or threatening forces of nature. And a death is always the end
of one particular story.
The Nesting Cycle of the Chaffinch
From a 1927 description by the British naturalist and ornithologist,
“The male must leave the flock, if he has belonged to one, and establish
himself in a territory which may at the time be incapable of sustaining
him alone, but must later in the season supply a satisfactory food-supply
for himself, his mate and family, and for as many birds of other species
as overlap his sphere of influence. He must then sing loudly and
incessantly for several months, since, however soon he secures a mate,
trespassers must be warned off the territory, or, if they ignore his
warning, driven out.
“His mate must help with the defence of the territory when she is needed;
pairing must be accomplished; a suitable site must be found for the nest;
materials must be collected and put together securely enough to hold five
bulky young birds; eggs must be laid in the nest and continuously brooded
for a fortnight till they hatch, often in very adverse weather; the young
are at first so delicate that they have to be brooded and encouraged to
sleep a great part of the time, yet they must have their own weight of
food in a day, and in proportion as the need of brooding them decreases,
their appetites grow, until in the end the parents are feeding four or
five helpless birds equal to themselves in size and appetite but incapable
of digesting nearly such a wide diet.
“Enemies must be watched for and the nest defended and kept clean. When
the young scatter, often before they can fly properly, they need even
greater vigilance, but within a few days of the fledging of the first
brood a second nest will (in many cases) be ready and the process in full
swing over again. All this has to be done in face of great practical
difficulties by two creatures, with little strength and not much
intelligence, both of whom may have been hatched only the season before.”
E. S. Russell, commenting on descriptions such as
those of the chaffinch in
noted the narrative connectedness of the events: “Behaviour is often part
of a long-range cycle of events, in which one action prepares for and
leads on to the next until the end term is reached. Each stage in the
chain or cycle is unintelligible to us except in its relation to what has
gone before, and, more particularly, to what is yet to come. Such cycles
have a temporal unity …”
(Russell 1938, pp. 7-8).
Present significances are interwoven with and inseparable from the
tapestry of past events and their meanings. And future developments,
along with whatever new and unpredictable elements they bring, are a
continued, improvisational elaboration of the same tapestry of meaning.
In other words, the “end” being approached in an
organism’s story is not some particular, discrete accomplishment, distinct
from the means of getting there, but rather the wholeness and perfection
of the entire narrative movement from “here” to “there”. Assessing this
end is much the same as if we were assessing the meaning of a novel:
knowing the ending in isolation would have little significance compared to
knowing the larger story of which it is part.
We are organisms, but not all organisms are human
Note well, then, that when speaking of the organism’s story, we need make
no reference to the consciously directed performances of human beings,
even though our performances certainly exhibit a narrative character in
the sense meant here. When I refer to living activity as “end-directed”,
I am not suggesting the formulation of a conscious goal that is “aimed
at”. I mean, rather, something like this:
The organism’s life is a continual playing forward of meaning within
meaningful contexts. There is a certain directedness to any such play
of meaning (as when birds build a nest), but it need not be the
directedness of human plan fulfillment.
The directedness of a temporally unfolding play of meaning implies no
narrow goal and no conscious planning. But every such play of meaning
does have a certain directedness to it. Think of the greatest poems or
novels, where nothing is calculated in order to reach the
conclusion, but the movement is nevertheless from the beginning to the
end, not the reverse. This movement simply expresses the progressive
deepening of a meaningful and coherent unity — more like a dance than
pursuit of a fixed and predefined goal. And the dance looks ever more
improvisational as organisms ascend in the scale of complexity.
I offer no specific hypotheses to explain the existence of intentional
agency and story narration. I only note that the fact of the
narrative is immediately demonstrable in every organism. There may be
huge differences in the nature of the stories that can be told by
different sorts of organism, but from the molecular level on up there are
always elements of story that we do not find in inanimate things. The
narrative of meaningful activity undertaken and accomplished is there to
be seen, and is characterized as such, if only inadvertently, in every
paragraph of biological description.
Moreover, our recognition of intelligent and intentional activity does not
require us to understand its source. Looking at the pages of a book, we
have no difficulty distinguishing written marks from deposits of lint and
dust, even if we know nothing about the origin of the marks. We can
declare a functioning machine to be engaged in a purposive operation,
whether or not we have any clue about the engineers who built a
mechanistic reflection of their own purposes into it. And if we find
live, intelligent performances by organisms, we don’t have to know how, or
from where, the intelligence gets its foothold before we accept the
testimony of our eyes and understanding.
Neither should we expect the stories to be predictable — no more than we
expect the ending of a half-read novel to be predictable. We can,
however, expect the ending to make sense, and even to throw light
on everything that went before. The story will hold together in a
way that unstoried physical events do not.
The storytelling is the
being of the organism
If the organism’s life is an unfolding story, then we might well take the
essence of that life to be the storytelling itself, not the
particular embodiment of the story at any frozen instant. Organisms, as
philosopher Hans Jonas has written, “are individuals whose being is their
own doing … they are committed to keeping up this being by ever
renewed acts of it.” Their identity is “not the inert one of a permanent
substratum, but the self-created one of continuous performance”
(Jonas 1968, p. 236, 233).
Or, as Spinoza put it a few centuries earlier:
The effort by which each thing endeavors to persist in its own being is
nothing else than the actual essence of the thing
Or, again, we have the rather different formulation by Paul Weiss, a
National Medal of Science recipient and profound observer of cellular
Life is a dynamic process. Logically, the elements of a process can
be only elementary processes, and not elementary particles
or any other static units.
(Weiss 1962, p. 3)
An organism is not, most essentially, its body. It is a unique power of
activity. Its body is, first of all, a result of this activity, while also
developing into a further vehicle for it. Organisms, in other words, are
doings rather than beings. Or, as the student of holistic
thinking, Henri Bortoft, has put it, they are “doings that be”, not
So it is not that an organism’s material being determines its doings (as
is broadly assumed throughout the biological sciences); rather, its doings
are what constitute it as a material being. This means that it is never
wholly present to our observation in any outward or material sense. The
organism’s essential power to act cannot itself be a visible product of
The preeminence of activity in relation to physical substance and
structure would, if taken seriously, give us an altogether new science of
life. For example, it might have saved us from an entire century of badly
misdirected thinking about DNA and genes. It might also have spared
biologists the crude materialism that many physicists long ago gained the
freedom to question.
But this is to get ahead of the story. For now, it is enough to mention
two questions implicit in the foregoing, while deferring further comment:
Regarding our theory of evolution: If, in reality, every organism’s
existence is a live, moment-by-moment, improvisational storytelling — a
creative and adaptive, irreversible narrative that is always progressing
coherently and contextually from challenge to response and adaptation,
from initiative to outcome, from nascence to renascence, from immaturity
through maturity to regeneration — then an evolutionary theory rooted in
notions of random variation and mindlessness is a theory hanging upon a
great question mark. “The answer to the question of what status teleology
[‘end-directedness’] should have in biology” — so the influential
biologist and philosopher Francisco Varela came to see at the end of his
life — determines “the character of our whole theory of animate nature”
(Weber and Varela 2002).
And then there is the question whether the future of individual species,
the future of particular ecological settings, the future of life’s
diversity on earth, and the future of earth itself, all depend on our
willingness and ability to attend to the life stories of the beings among
whom we live — depend, finally, on our capacity for the reverence that
these stories so naturally evoke.
There are many issues raised by the discussion in this chapter. For
• What is the relation between the purposes of organisms in general
and our own conscious purposes?
• Can we reasonably say that animals, and especially the simplest
animals, possess a form of consciousness?
• How do conscious human purposes relate to the purposiveness in our
bodies and cells, through which many of our intentions are carried out?
And much more. We will find ourselves engaging such questions in later
Trivers 1985, p. 5.
Niemann 2014, p. 30.
Reports of this remark by Haldane come with many variations. The eminent
French biologist, François Jacob, wrote, without attribution: “For a long
time, the biologist treated teleology as he would a woman he could not do
without, but did not care to be seen with in public”
(Jacob 1973, pp. 8-9).
Russell 1945, p. 111.
Russell 1938, pp. 7-8.
I have added paragraph breaks. The book by Nicholson is entitled How
Birds Live: A Brief Account of Bird-Life in the Light of Modern
Observation, and was published in London by Williams and Norgate, Ltd.,
The engraving of a chaffinch pair and their nest is from a book published
in 1866 and titled, Homes Without Hands: Being a Description of the
Habitations of Animals, Classed According to Their Principle of
Construction, by John George Wood and others. For more information,
The Internet Archive Book Images.
As translated from the Latin by
Russell 1945, p. 191.
The original is from Benedictus de Spinoza, Ethics, Part III, “On
the Origin and Nature of the Emotions”, Proposition 7.
The idea is central to Bortoft’s work, who ascribes this particular
(apparently unpublished) formulation to the British scientist and
philosopher, J. G. Bennett. See
Bortoft 1996, p. 270.
explanation/part and whole
inwardness (intention, idea, meaning)
Arp, Robert (2007). “Evolution and Two Popular Proposals for the
Definition of Function”, Journal for General Philosophy of Science
vol. 38, pp. 19-30.
Bortoft, Henri (1996). The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way toward a
Science of Conscious Participation in Nature. Hudson NY: Lindisfarne.
Jacob, François (1973). The Logic of Life: A History of Heredity,
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