Where is the who, and who is the who of a plant?

in philosophy •  last year

I want to know who the who of a plant is, and where the who of a plant is.

Who is the plant?

The root? The seed? The flower? The stem?
The petals? The leaves? The pollen? The stamen?

For a human, it's a bit more simple. We have two options here.

The brain, and the reproductive organs.

The brain is where your personality is. The brain is what chooses what you do with your life. It chooses how you live, and what your body does. Your body is a shell, and the brain is the mastermind behind the machine.

The genitals? They have their genetic code. Another compelling answer, seeing as those are what you'd use to create offspring.

They contain code that results in even more brains.

There's also the body of a human or animal to consider, even if it is just output of genetic code, or following instructions the brain creates.

But what about a plant? Who is the who? Where is the who?

I want to ask a plant "Who are you?"

If I say it's the seed, then that means the leaves, stem, flowers, and all that are meaningless. Just a shell to protect the replicating genetic code. But that makes the DNA itself the who.

And if it's true for plants, it's true for humans, because DNA is what powers all life.

The logic here can't be avoided. Either DNA itself is powerful enough to be the "who" of a human, or it's just another aspect to us, leaving the "who" elsewhere.

Yet, if DNA isn't the "who" of a person, then it can't be the who of a plant.

The plant's actual center of being could then be the plant itself.

Well, this very philosophical concept is melting my mind.
I actually can't type anymore. I just don't know.

Someone reading this will have to assist my philosophical query.

Anyone have any ideas?

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Logically, the DNA cannot be "the who" of a "who-man" (human).

This is fairly simply demonstrated by the abundant existence of identical twins, "who," sharing identical DNA, will vehemently protest each their own identity and personhood.

I think you were closer to the truth when you discussed the brain as being the possible seat of "who." :)




I don't think that's quite true.

Even identical twins aren't actually identical, and certainly not down to the DNA level. There are lots of differences there, that although aren't apparent just from looking at them, I think differences do exist on a genetic level, even between twins.

Still, I don't think the DNA is the who. That makes the "who" a billion year old entity. The who would end up being code, rather than the output of the code.


Well, thank you for once again expanding my consciousness... ;)

Upon further reading, I see that you are correct about the DNA. All I can confidently say now after what I've just learned is that identical twins begin with identical DNA, which apparently is subjected to hundreds of mutations as they develop and are born. Interesting.

And then there are the newly discovered and discussed epigenetic changes that go on through a lifetime and are often the result of individual behavior...

And so, who is "the who" of you? Do you not experience consciousness, and have a sense of unique personal identity? I certainly do. And I value and protect that identity quite strongly. And, as a believer in Jesus and resurrection, it is important to me that there be continuity in my identity and consciousness going forward into the future.

Does this mean that I am opposed to learning and change? Not at all. For me, part of my personal identity is "becoming," i.e. learning, growing, and changing in beneficial and enjoyable ways. :D

Because epigenetic influences can have a significant influence on the final form of a growing organism, I would say DNA is most of it, but that a more complete answer is the pattern of atoms. Not at a single point in time but over its entire life span, a sort of 4 dimensional point cloud.

Maybe there isn't a "who." Maybe we're just a collection of cooperating processes that have mistakenly created an identity out of repeating behavior patterns. :-)

Or maybe the "who" is in every part of us and only becomes aware of itself through reaching a certain level of complexity in cooperation with other parts of itself.

Actually, I'm not sure these two ideas contradict each other.