The Things and Processes of Life

GBH Takes Flight
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“[A]n answer to one of the oldest chestnuts in the history of philosophy: is reality made up of things that somehow change over time, or are things just temporary shapes that our perception plucks out from a flux of unruly, unfolding processes?”
“[S]cience is simply too limited, parochial and fallible to tell us anything truly fundamental about what something is or is not. But for a naturalistic metaphysician, these observations of constant biotic flux point to the need for an overhaul in how we see the world. Instead of searching for things with fixed essences based on form and function, naturalistic metaphysics suggests that we need to move to a picture that’s much more dynamic – in which any ‘thingness’ is strictly temporary.”
“In the living world, at least, a metaphysics of ‘things’ is hard to sustain. Where once we had discrete and distinct ‘proteins’ and ‘organisms’, all we are left with are highly dynamic processes.”
“The really remarkable thing about the world isn’t how much things change, but how they achieve stability for any length of time.”
“In nature, though, nothing is ever independent of what’s going on around it. … If a living system ever manages to provide a constant result, it does so by reacting appropriately to an ever-changing scene.“
“[L]iving things are processes that are capable of assuming many protean forms: dynamic, ever-changing, but balancing, for a time, on just the right side of chaos.”
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