Interdependence: Biology and Beyond

Interdependence: Biology and Beyond

Interdependence: Biology and Beyond

Interdependence: Biology and Beyond

Synopsis

From biology to economics to information theory, the theme of interdependence is in the air, framing our experiences of all sorts of everyday phenomena. Indeed, the network may be the ascendant metaphor of our time. Yet precisely because the language of interdependence has become so commonplace as to be almost banal, we miss some of its most surprising and far-reaching implications.

In Interdependence, biologist Kriti Sharma offers a compelling alternative to the popular view that interdependence simply means independent things interacting. Sharma systematically shows how interdependence entails the mutual constitution of one thing by another-how all things come into being only in a system of dependence on others.

In a step-by-step account filled with vivid examples, Sharma shows how a coherent view of interdependence can help make sense not only of a range of everyday experiences but also of the most basic functions of living cells. With particular attention to the fundamental biological problem of how cells pick up signals from their surroundings, Sharma shows that only an account which replaces the perspective of "individual cells interacting with external environments" with one centered in interdependent, recursive systems can adequately account for how life works.

This book will be of interest to biologists and philosophers, to theorists of science, of systems, and of cybernetics, and to anyone curious about how life works. Clear, concise, and insightful, Interdependence: Biology and Beyond explicitly offers a coherent and practical philosophy of interdependence and will help shape what interdependence comes to mean in the twenty-first century.

Excerpt

You may have heard the phrase “It’s all connected” before. What does it even mean? Does it mean that an ice floe calving off the coast of Antarctica is about to cause the electricity to go out in your neighborhood? Does it mean that an intangible something knits together and resonates through all living and nonliving things, and we can tune into its hum? Does it point to the global economy and the vast network of actors and factors upon which each of our lives and personal fortunes depend? Does it refer to deer eating grass and wolves eating deer, or to electrons influencing each other across a distance? Is it a scientific fact? a spiritual experience? a political reality? a marketing slogan? An ethical claim?

Of course, the phrase “It’s all connected” has meant all of these things and more, depending on the context in which it is used. What is being emphasized here is that the theme of interdependence is in the air, framing our experiences of myriad everyday phenomena. “The network” may be the ascendant metaphor of our time. Yet, it is precisely because the language of interdependence has become so commonplace as to be almost banal that we may miss some of its most surprising and far- reaching implications.

Nowhere, perhaps, is interdependence evoked as vividly and often as in the biological sciences. the careful work of biologists over millennia has produced a massive body of observations that illustrate a vibrant, intricate, causally complex world, in which products depend on processes, processes depend on products, wholes depend on parts, parts depend on wholes, and living beings depend on one another for our lives. the widespread interest in and acknowledgment of the interrelatedness of natural phenomena in biology thus creates the illusion of a coherent view of interdependence.

Still, I contend, the ascendant view of interdependence at play in biology— as in popular culture—is not a view of interdependence at all. It remains a view . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.