Chimeras and ConsciousnessEvolution of the Sensory Self

Chimeras and ConsciousnessEvolution of the Sensory Self

Lynn Margulis, Celeste A. Asikainen, and Wolfgang E. Krumbein

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780262015394

Publisher: The MIT Press


This book begins the inquiry into the evolution of the collective sensitivities of life. Chapters trace the emergence and evolution of consciousness. Complex behaviors and the social imperatives of bacteria and other life forms during 3,000 million years of Earth history gave rise to mammalian cognition. Awareness and sensation led to astounding activities; millions of species incessantly interacted to form our planet’s complex conscious system. Our planetmates, all of them conscious to some degree, were joined only recently by us, the aggressive modern humans. From social bacteria to urban citizens, all living beings participate in community life. Nested inside families within communities inside ecosystems, each metabolizes, takes in matter, expends energy, and excretes. Each of the members of our own and other species, in groups with incessantly shifting alliances, receives and processes information. Mergers of radically different life forms with myriad purposes—the “chimeras” of the title—underlie dramatic metamorphosis and other positive evolutionary change. Since early bacteria avoided, produced, and eventually used oxygen, Earth’s sensory systems have expanded and complexified. The chapters in this book serve to put sensitive, sensible life in its cosmic context.

Table of Contents

I Selves

1 Valuable Viruses

Frank P. Ryan

3 Alarmones

Antonio Lazcano, Arturo Becerra, and Luis Delaye

4 Early Sensibilities

Kenneth H. Nealson

II Groups

5 Smart Bacteria

Eshel Ben-Jacob, Yoash Shapira, and Alfred I. Tauber

6 Ancient Architects

Wolfgang E. Krumbein, and Celeste A. Asikainen

7 Others

Laurie Lassiter

8 Nested Communities

James MacAllister

III Earth

9 Cosmic Rhythms of Life

Bruce Scofield

10 Life’s Tectonics

Paul D. Lowman, and Nathan Currier

IV Chimeras

13 From Movement to Sensation

John L. Hall, and Lynn Margulis

14 Packaging DNA

Andrew Maniotis

16 Interspecies Hybrids

Sonya E. Vickers, and Donald I. Williamson

17 Origins of the Immune System

Margaret J. McFall-Ngai

18 Medical Symbiotics

Jessica Hope Whiteside, and Dorion Sagan

V Consciousness

20 Brains and Symbols

John Skoyles