Process and action: Whitehead's ontological units and perceptuomotor control units

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

9 Citations (Scopus)


Movement lies at the heart of matter; all matter is always moving, in many different modes. Matter organised in the form of living cells and animals does something peculiar, however. Its collective movements are purposeful and goal-oriented, geared for the appropriation of an immediate future and generally for the preservation of its existence. The organisation of the movement of matter lies at the heart of living: from the organised biochemical activity within small compartments of cells, to the movements and activities of cells and cell systems, to the gross body movements of large multicellular organisms like you and I. All of life is the organised movement of matter.
Living organisation enacts purposeful behaviours that sustain the existence of the living thing, a feature that I will show here fundamentally requires prospective control to anticipate the future present. How an organism senses and moves prospectively purposefully within its environment is an essential question for the emerging “systems” sciences, and is the theme for this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLife and process
Subtitle of host publicationtowards a new biophilosophy
EditorsSpyridon Koutroufinis
Place of PublicationBerlin/Boston
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

Publication series

NameProcess Thought
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISSN (Print)2198-2295


  • process
  • action
  • whitehead
  • perceptuomotor control
  • ontological units


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