The little things in life
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While reading Processes of Life, I flipped through Rachel Sussman’s The Oldest Living Things in the World, a photographic travelogue of living entities that materialize many of the themes that animate John Dupré’s most recent volume of essays. Sussman photographs clonal colonies of quaking aspens that complicate the distinction between organism and community; Australian stromatolites composed of diverse microbes that collaboratively metabolize and lithify; the honey mushroom (a.k.a. ‘the humongous fungus’), which stretches across 3.5 square miles but bears a single genome. Such life-forms are good for philosophers of biology to think with, especially one like Dupré, whose latest volume gathers eight years of essays on diverse topics related to life. Taking the liberty of applying Dupré’s notion of “strong emergence” to Processes of Life, I submit that the volume as a whole exhibits complex argumentative and theoretical properties that are greater than the sum of its component essays.