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Observations placeholder

Damasio, Professor Antonio - The 'mind' of a cell



Type of Spiritual Experience


It is not true to say that all boundaried entities have a memory – they don’t.  The vast majority do not.

The existence of such a log of perception in boundaried entities is hypothesised from observations of their behaviour…….

Professor Damasio [and others] thus believes the core functions I have shown in the model probably exist at every level of aggregate/boundaried organism, where each boundaried organism also has its own discrete additional functions relevant to its role in the aggregate as a whole.


A description of the experience

Professor Antonio Damasio – The Feeling of What Happens

The unwitting and unconscious urge to stay alive betrays itself inside a simple cell in a complicated operation that requires ‘sensing’ the state of the chemical profile inside the boundary and that requires unwitting, ‘unconscious knowledge’ of what to do, chemically speaking, when the sensing reveals too little or too much of some ingredient at some place or time within the cell. 

To put it another way, it requires something not unlike perception in order to sense imbalance; it requires something not unlike implicit memory [perception log] in the form of dispositions for action, in order to hold its technical know-how; and it requires something not unlike a skill to perform a pre-emptive or corrective action. 

If all this sounds to you like the description of important functions of our brain, you are correct.  The fact is, however, I am not talking about a brain, because there is no nervous system inside the little cell.  Moreover, this brain-like mechanism that is really not a brain cannot be the result of nature copying the properties of a brain.  On the contrary, sensing environmental conditions, holding know-how in dispositions and acting on the basis of those dispositions were already present in single cell creatures before they were part of any multi-cellular organisms, let alone multi-cellular organisms with brains.

The source of the experience

Damasio, Professor Antonio

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps