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Hubble telescope photograph of stars, galaxies, and nebulae

Quote of the Week
(April 8, 2024)

Let’s not forget: when we say that what happens in a cell is “context-dependent”, we are talking about a watery expanse populated by untold billions of molecules in unsurveyable variety. The need is for just the right combinations of molecules to do just the right things “in the moment” — and to do them in light of the overall state of the entire cell within its particular tissue. Is this cell just now committing itself to cellular division? Then what these molecules here and those molecules over there must do is now being radically redefined. Their new “assignments” depend not only on their location in the cell, but also on their necessary functional participation in lengthy, complex, temporal sequences of interaction that require the choreographing of countless other molecules as well.

Something is always going on contextually, and all the molecular interactions, taken together, must reflect whatever that something happens to be — must reflect the meaning of the encompassing narrative.

(from Chapter 6, “Context: Dare We Call It Holism?”, in Organisms and Their Evolution — Agency and Meaning in the Drama of Life)

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