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We all experienced it when we were children. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly: the same life is embodied in two bodies that have nothing in common. One is a huge digestive tube resting on legs that climb on the ground, the other is a machine that flutters to mate: they have neither the same anatomical identity, nor the same clothes, nor a specific world, and yet they are inhabited by the same self, and they are as intimately connected to each other as one is to one’s childhood body. This relationship is not limited to the caterpillar and the butterfly, it extends to all living things. Regardless of the species and kingdom to which they belong, all living bodies, present, past and future, are the same life that is transmitted from body to body, species to species, era to era. Metamorphosis is the relationship that unites all living beings to the planet, of which they are the expression: life is only the butterfly of this enormous caterpillar that is our Earth.
Emanuele Coccia is Associate Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris. He was formerly assistant professor of history of philosophy in Freiburg, Germany. Passionate about art and botany, he is the author of Sensible Life: A Micro-Ontology of the Image (2016), The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture (2018) and recently Metamorphosis (2021), which has been translated into several languages. His latest book is Filosofia della casa: lo spazio domestic e la felicità (Philosophy of the Home: Domestic Space and Happiness, 2021). In collaboration with Giorgio Agamben, he published Angeli. Ebraismo, Cristianesimo, Islam (2009), a 2000-page anthology on angels in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic contexts. In 2019, he was a scientific advisor on the exhibition Trees, presented at the Fondation Cartier in Paris.