Sunday, December 02, 2007

Contemplate the ant

Ants work toward a common goal. This might be understated. Consider when I say my liver or pancreas works toward a common goal. Or my cells. A human body has lots of types of cells. Perhaps these ants are just one dispersed big organism, albeit a slow moving one, due to the slow movement of the parts. some slime molds are occasionally considered a single organism under certain conditions. Why could not ants qualify to be a single organism?

Suppose someone comes along and says there is no creature called a human, just a bunch of cells doing a certain patterned behavior. (We say such such things about ants -- "the colony isn't a creature, the ant is.") So the human isn't a creature, but the individual cells are. What is the error? I think this might be the biological equivalent of the classic problem of the one and the many as noted in Philosophy.


[image] "Visualizing nest architecture of the Florida harvester ant" Makezine (Accessed 11/22/2007)

[1] "Cuando ruge la marabunta" Flickr Uploaded on November 6, 2007 by elpaquito


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