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Genidentity and Biological Processes

Pradeu, Thomas (2018) Genidentity and Biological Processes.


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A crucial question for anyone willing to defend a process view of the biological world is how
to identify a process and how to follow it through time. Here I suggest that the “genidentity”
view (suggested first by psychologist Kurt Lewin, and then further explored by philosopher
Hans Reichenbach, mainly in the context of physics) can contribute decisively to this project.
According to the genidentity view, the identity through time of an entity X is nothing more
than the continuous connection of the states through which X goes. In this paper, I explain
how the genidentity view addresses the long debated problem of what constitutes diachronic
identity in the biological world. I describe the centrality of the concept of genidentity in David
Hull’s reflection on biological identity, and I then suggest an extension of Hull’s view on the
basis of recent data demonstrating the ubiquity of symbiotic interactions in the living world.
Finally, using immunological interactions as a key example, I show that the genidentity view
sheds light on process biology by suggesting that the main interest of a process approach is
epistemological rather than ontological, and that the main claim of a process approach is one
of priority, that is, the claim that processes precede and define things, and not vice versa.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Pradeu, Thomas
Keywords: Continuity; Genidentity; David Hull; Identity; Immune system; Individuality; Process; Symbiosis.
Depositing User: Thomas Pradeu
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2020 00:27
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2020 00:27
Item ID: 18299
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Date: 2018
Volume: 1

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