Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 775–796 | Cite as

Individuality, subjectivity, and minimal cognition

  • Peter Godfrey-Smith


The paper links discussions of two topics: biological individuality and the simplest forms of mentality. I discuss several attempts to locate the boundary between metabolic activity and ‘minimal cognition.’ I then look at differences between the kinds of individuality present in unicellular life, multicellular life in general, and animals of several kinds. Nervous systems, which are clearly relevant to cognition and subjectivity, also play an important role in the form of individuality seen in animals. The last part of the paper links these biological transitions to the evolutionary history of subjective experience.


Life Cognition Subjectivity Multicellularity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CUNY Graduate CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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