The question becomes even more ponderous when you start examining reproduction by binary fission.
Nothing beats microscopic porn. Thanks for that picture.
So, I think the "one-into-many" problem
comes about because we impute singularity as a characteristic.
I used to have this discussion with people about a bowl of vegetable soup.
Is there something singularly unique that is in itself, "soup"
or is it a bunch of separate food things floating in a broth?
We call it "soup" for the sake of conceptual convenience
but such a term really only refers to a particular type of sum
It's like the total amount of payment due
printed at the bottom of a list of things purchased.
We call that "total".
It is a representative term.
it represents a bunch of different things added together.
"Cup" likewise only refers to the sum of its parts
arranged in such a way, over and over again,
so that we humans have developed a generalized concept
of such an arrangement.
Thus, as mentioned ,if I ask you if you'd like a cup of coffee,
you know I will not pour it into your shoes.
We can say 'cup" or "mug" or "chalice" or"grail" referring to a grouping of components
In the same way that we have created a conceptual category
we call "soup"
for objects in a bowl of liquid.
A bowl of corn flakes in milk is also a kind of soup, isn't it?
but we don't call it that.
If you knock a bowl of soup onto the floor,
you still have the bowl, even if it now a broken bowl
and you still have the soup
even if it is now a mess on the floor
because you still have the components parts of each.
What you don't have
is something you can eat.
There is no point at which the components of bowl or soup ceased.
the only thing that ended was
the concept of singularity, of the grand total
and that was only a representative concept
to begin with.
in the case of micro-organisms,
the potential to divide is always there
so the situation becomes one of realized vs. unrealized potential.
But yes, it is more complicated.
a single cell becomes two more single cells.
This is different than a cup. It doesn't break and become two more cups.
This reminds me of Mickey Mouse chopping up the Sorcerer's broom,
or a hologram. Or the Christian Eucharist.