Toward a Biology Worthy of Life > The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings > Brief excerpt
A project by Stephen L. Talbott

Different languages apply to the live organism and the corpse (2)

Sometimes, in fact, the biologist’s language may reach beyond your own intuitions, as when two researchers say that living organisms not only “issue an integrated response to current conditions” but also “make limited predictions about future environmental changes”, leading to the hope that, with current tools, we can gain “insights into the thought processes of a cell”. The same two researchers describe signaling networks as the “perceptual components of a cell,” responsible for “observing current conditions and making decisions about the appropriate use of resources — ultimately by regulating cellular behaviour” (Hyduke and Palsson 2010). Or you can go back to Barbara McClintock’s Nobel Prize address, when she surmised that “some sensing mechanism must be present...to alert the cell to imminent danger.” In the future we should try to “determine the extent of knowledge the cell has of itself, and how it utilizes this knowledge in a ‘thoughtful’ manner when challenged” (McClintock 1983).

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