Sowing Discourse

Precious Okoyomon: View of “Every Earthly Morning the Sky’s Light Touches Ur Life is Unprecedented in its Beauty,” 2021 at the Aspen Art Museum, AspenPHOTO: TONY PRIKR, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST, THE ASPEN ART MUSEUM, AND QUINN HARRELSON GALLERY.

In The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture (2017), philosopher Emanuele Coccia points out that biology, ostensibly the scientific study of “life,” tends to be based largely on concepts drawn from the animal kingdom. Plants have received significantly less attention, in both the life sciences and in philosophy, creating a pervasive zoological bias. Unlike animals (which generally stop developing once they reached sexual maturity), some plants grow continuously, spending their entire lives constructing new organs and body parts. Plants are nonmotile, but can spread to cover vast surfaces, from which they absorb resources and interact with other organisms to support their growth. “Plants participate in the world in its totality in everything they meet,” Coccia writes, noting that “one cannot separate the plant—neither physically nor metaphysically—from the world that accommodates it.”

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