Collective individuation and emergence of organismality
Keywords:biological individuation, association, emergence, organismality, biological complexity
In this article we focus on the emergence of biological individuality by association, trying to formulate some theoretical conditions to think about the process of collective individualization. The starting point of our analysis is the notion of “major evolutionary transition.” A major evolutionary transition is the result of the integration of a multiplicity of initially independent biological entities that, by managing to organize their interactions, become a collective of components having an identity oriented towards a common goal. When biological organisms (sometimes belonging to different lineages) are concerned, a major transition corresponds to a phenomenon of fusion between them. We shall argue that the emergence of a new biological level of individuality implies the establishment of constitutive relationships between individuals that change their status as autonomous entities. As a result, the emergence of a new type of entity in the living world implies that individuals enter into relationships that intrinsically transform them, a transformation sufficient for a “whole” to become a “part” that forms another “whole”, that is, a new level of organismality.
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