Toward a Biology Worthy of Life > From Physical Causes to Organisms of Meaning > Brief excerpt
A project by Stephen L. Talbott

There are no consistent causes in the organism (3)

Because every local activity of the organism must find its meaningful place within the encompassing activity of a striving, developing, self-transforming whole, there can be no fixed syntax, no mechanical constancy of relations among the parts. Certainly you still can, without self-deception, consider yourself to be identifying causes in the organism. What you are doing is recognizing physical lawfulness in the current context. But it is a context that remains what it was only for a moment. The organism, regarded as a closed system relative to the causes under investigation — the only kind of system in which stable causes can even be defined — is forever abandoning its old state and entering a new one. Therefore no cause can reliably be assumed to remain the same cause over a period of time. When a larger, dynamic intention is reflected in the changing significance of each part, the organism as a whole governs the activities of its parts rather in the way the meaning of an unfolding text or play governs its parts.

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