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  1. The Return of Vitalism: Canguilhem and French Biophilosophy in the 1960s.Charles T. Wolfe - manuscript
    The eminent French biologist and historian of biology, François Jacob, once notoriously declared “On n’interroge plus la vie dans les laboratoires”: laboratory research no longer inquires into the notion of ‘Life’. Nowadays, as David Hull puts it, “both scientists and philosophers take ontological reduction for granted… Organisms are ‘nothing but’ atoms, and that is that.” In the mid-twentieth century, from the immediate post-war period to the late 1960s, French philosophers of science such as Georges Canguilhem, Raymond Ruyer and Gilbert Simondon (...)
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  2. Teleomechanism Redux? The Conceptual Hybridity of Living Machines in Early Modern Natural Philosophy.Charles T. Wolfe - manuscript
    We have been accustomed at least since Kant and mainstream history of philosophy to distinguish between the ‘mechanical’ and the ‘teleological’; between a fully mechanistic, quantitative science of Nature exemplified by Newton and a teleological, qualitative approach to living beings ultimately expressed in the concept of ‘organism’ – a purposive entity, or at least an entity possessed of functions. The beauty of this distinction is that it seems to make intuitive sense and to map onto historical and conceptual constellations in (...)
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  3. The Unfolding of a New Vision of Life, Cosmos and Evolution.Agustin Ostachuk - 2020 - Ludus Vitalis 28 (53):81-83.
    Has science already answered the fundamental questions about the concepts of Life, Cosmos and Evolution? Has science not relegated these fundamental questions by following up on more immediate, “useful” and practical endeavors that ultimately ensure that the wheel of capitalism keeps spinning in its frantic search for material and economic progress? There is something terribly wrong with the current theory of evolution, understood as the Darwinian theory with its successive versions and extensions. The concept of natural selection, the cornerstone of (...)
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  4. The Artificial Cell, the Semipermeable Membrane, and the Life That Never Was, 1864–1901.Daniel Liu - 2019 - Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 49 (5):504-555.
    Since the early nineteenth century a membrane or wall has been central to the cell’s identity as the elementary unit of life. Yet the literally and metaphorically marginal status of the cell membrane made it the site of clashes over the definition of life and the proper way to study it. In this article I show how the modern cell membrane was conceived of by analogy to the first “artificial cell,” invented in 1864 by the chemist Moritz Traube (1826–1894), and (...)
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  5. Die Perspektive des Lebens: Genealogie und Kritik beim späten Nietzsche.Johannes Steizinger - 2019 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 67 (3):451-463.
    This paper focuses on the relation of genealogy and critique in Nietzsche’s late philosophy. It is argued that the late Nietzsche distinguishes between genealogy and critique. The genealogy of morality is a descriptive endeavor that shows the origin of values in processes of life. The critique of morality assesses the value of values from the perspective of life. It is argued that the concept of life is at the core of Nietzsche’s critical project and thus his fundamental standard. The paper (...)
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  6. Il minimo, l’unità, e l’universo infinito nella cosmologia vitalistica di Giordano Bruno.Marina P. Banchetti - 2018 - In Andrea Muni (ed.), Platone nel pensiero moderno e contemporaneo - Volume XV. Milano: Limina Mentis. pp. 1-20.
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  7. Canguilhem and the Logic of Life.Arantza Etxeberria & Charles T. Wolfe - 2018 - Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science 4:47.
    In this paper we examine aspects of Canguilhem’s philosophy of biology, concerning the knowledge of life and its consequences on science and vitalism. His concept of life stems from the idea of a living individual, endowed with creative subjectivity and norms, a Kantian view which “disconcerts logic”. In contrast, two different approaches ground naturalistic perspectives to explore the logic of life and the logic of the living individual in the 1970s. Although Canguilhem is closer to the second, there are divergences; (...)
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  8. Complex Organisation and Fundamental Physics.Brian D. Josephson - 2018 - Streaming Media Service, Cambridge University.
    The file on this site provides the slides for a lecture given in Hangzhou in May 2018, and the lecture itself is available at the URL beginning 'sms' in the set of links provided in connection with this item. -/- It is commonly assumed that regular physics underpins biology. Here it is proposed, in a synthesis of ideas by various authors, that in reality structures and mechanisms of a biological character underpin the world studied by physicists, in principle supplying detail (...)
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  9. Life: the Center of our Existence.Agustin Ostachuk - 2018 - Ludus Vitalis 26 (50):257-260.
    Life is the center of our existence. One would be tempted to say that first of all we live. However, our existence does not seem to pass in that modality. The exacerbated materialism in which our existence takes place, displaces life from the center of the scene. Our society is organized around production, consumerism, exploitation, efficiency, trade and propaganda. That is to say, our existence seems to have economy as the center of organization of our activities. The struggle of this (...)
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  10. The Evolution Concept: The Concept Evolution.Agustin Ostachuk - 2018 - Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 14 (3):354-378.
    This is an epistemologically-driven history of the concept of evolution. Starting from its inception, this work will follow the development of this pregnant concept. However, in contradistinction to previous attempts, the objective will not be the identification of the different meanings it adopted through history, but conversely, it will let the concept to be unfolded, to be explicated and to express its own inner potentialities. The underlying thesis of the present work is, therefore, that the path that leads to the (...)
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  11. Metaphysics, Function and the Engineering of Life: The Problem of Vitalism.Charles T. Wolfe, Bohang Chen & Cécilia Bognon-Küss - 2018 - Kairos 20 (1):113-140.
    Vitalism was long viewed as the most grotesque view in biological theory: appeals to a mysterious life-force, Romantic insistence on the autonomy of life, or worse, a metaphysics of an entirely living universe. In the early twentieth century, attempts were made to present a revised, lighter version that was not weighted down by revisionary metaphysics: “organicism”. And mainstream philosophers of science criticized Driesch and Bergson’s “neovitalism” as a too-strong ontological commitment to the existence of certain entities or “forces”, over and (...)
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  12. La biophilosophie de Georges Canguilhem.Charles T. Wolfe - 2017 - Scienza and Filosofia 17.
    ABSTRACT: GEORGES CANGUILHEM’S BIOPHILOSOPHY The eminent French biologist and historian of biology, François Jacob, once notoriously declared «On n’interroge plus la vie dans les laboratoires»: laboratory research no longer inquires into the notion of “Life”. Certain influential French philosophers of science of the mid‐century such as Georges Canguilhem would disagree, or at least seek to resist some of Jacob’s diagnosis. Not by imposing a different kind of research program in laboratories, but by an unusual combination of historical and philosophical inquiry (...)
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  13. The Principle of Life: from Aristotelian Psyche to Drieschian Entelechy.Agustin Ostachuk - 2016 - Ludus Vitalis 24 (45):37-59.
    Is life a simple result of a conjunction of physico-chemical processes? Can be reduced to a mere juxtaposition of spatially determined events? What epistemology or world-view allows us to comprehend it? Aristotle built a novel philosophical system in which nature is a dynamical totality which is in constant movement. Life is a manifestation of it, and is formed and governed by the psyche. Psyche is the organizational principle of the different biological levels: nutritive, perceptive and intelective. Driesch's crucial experiment provided (...)
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  14. The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet. [REVIEW]Graham Oppy - 2015 - Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences 2 (2):247.
    Review of Michael Ruse (2015) *The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet*.
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  15. “Was Canguilhem a Biochauvinist? Goldstein, Canguilhem and the Project of ‘Biophilosophy’".Charles Wolfe - 2015 - In Darian Meacham (ed.), Medicine and Society, New Continental Perspectives (Dordrecht: Springer, Philosophy and Medicine Series, 2015). Springer. pp. 197-212.
    Canguilhem is known to have regretted, with some pathos, that Life no longer serves as an orienting question in our scientific activity. He also frequently insisted on a kind of uniqueness of organisms and/or living bodies – their inherent normativity, their value-production and overall their inherent difference from mere machines. In addition, Canguilhem acknowledged a major debt to the German neurologist-theoretician Kurt Goldstein, author most famously of The Structure of the Organism in 1934; along with Merleau-Ponty, Canguilhem was the main (...)
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  16. Sensibility as Vital Force or as Property of Matter in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Debates.Charles T. Wolfe - 2014 - In Henry Martyn Lloyd (ed.), The Discourse of Sensibility: The Knowing Body in the Enlightenment. Springer. pp. 147-170.
    Sensibility, in any of its myriad realms – moral, physical, aesthetic, medical and so on – seems to be a paramount case of a higher-level, intentional property, not a basic property. Diderot famously made the bold and attributive move of postulating that matter itself senses, or that sensibility (perhaps better translated ‘sensitivity’ here) is a general or universal property of matter, even if he at times took a step back from this claim and called it a “supposition.” Crucially, sensibility is (...)
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  17. The Organism as Ontological Go-Between. Hybridity, Boundaries and Degrees of Reality in its Conceptual History.Charles T. Wolfe - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 1:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shps.
    The organism is neither a discovery like the circulation of the blood or the glycogenic function of the liver, nor a particular biological theory like epigenesis or preformationism. It is rather a concept which plays a series of roles – sometimes overt, sometimes masked – throughout the history of biology, and frequently in very normative ways, also shifting between the biological and the social. Indeed, it has often been presented as a key-concept in life science and the ‘theorization’ of Life, (...)
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  18. The Origin of Cellular Life and Biosemiotics.Attila Grandpierre - 2013 - Biosemiotics (3):1-15.
    Recent successes of systems biology clarified that biological functionality is multilevel. We point out that this fact makes it necessary to revise popular views about macromolecular functions and distinguish between local, physico-chemical and global, biological functions. Our analysis shows that physico-chemical functions are merely tools of biological functionality. This result sheds new light on the origin of cellular life, indicating that in evolutionary history, assignment of biological functions to cellular ingredients plays a crucial role. In this wider picture, even if (...)
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  19. Vitalism and the Scientific Image: An Introduction.Sebastian Normandin & Charles T. Wolfe - 2013 - In Sebastian Normandin & Charles T. Wolfe (eds.), Vitalism and the scientific image, 1800-2010. Springer.
    Introduction to edited volume on vitalism and/in the life sciences, 1800-2010.
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  20. Experiments and Research Programmes. Revisiting Vitalism/Non-Vitalism Debate in Early Twentieth Century.Bijoy Mukherjee - 2012 - Argument: Biannual Philosophical Journal 2 (1):171-198.
    Debates in the philosophy of science typically take place around issues such as realism and theory change. Recently, the debate has been reformulated to bring in the role of experiments in the context of theory change. As regards realism, Ian Hacking’s contribution has been to introduce ‘intervention’ as the basis of realism. He also proposed, following Imre Lakatos, to replace the issue of truth with progress and rationality. In this context we examine the case of the vitalism — reductionism debate (...)
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  21. Forms of Materialist Embodiment.Charles T. Wolfe - 2012 - In Matthew Landers & Brian Muñoz (eds.), Anatomy and the Organization of Knowledge, 1500-1850. Pickering & Chatto.
    The materialist approach to the body is often, if not always understood in ‘mechanistic’ terms, as the view in which the properties unique to organic, living embodied agents are reduced to or described in terms of properties that characterize matter as a whole, which allow of mechanistic explanation. Indeed, from Hobbes and Descartes in the 17th century to the popularity of automata such as Vaucanson’s in the 18th century, this vision of things would seem to be correct. In this paper (...)
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  22. Assuming in Biology the Reality of Real Virtuality (a Come Back for Entelechy?).Armando Aranda-Anzaldo - 2011 - Ludus Vitalis 19 (36):333-342.
    Since Aristotle the central question in biology was the origin of organic form; a question put in the backyard by neo-Darwinism that considers organic form as a side effect of the interactions between genes and their products. On the other hand, the fashionable notion of self-organization also fails to provide a true causal explanation for organic form. For Aristotle form is both a cause and the principle of intelligibility and this coupled to the classical concepts of potentiality and actuality provides (...)
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  23. Why Was There No Controversy Over Life in the Scientific Revolution?Charles T. Wolfe - 2010 - In Victor Boantza Marcelo Dascal (ed.), Controversies in the Scientific Revolution. John Benjamins.
    Well prior to the invention of the term ‘biology’ in the early 1800s by Lamarck and Treviranus, and also prior to the appearance of terms such as ‘organism’ under the pen of Leibniz in the early 1700s, the question of ‘Life’, that is, the status of living organisms within the broader physico-mechanical universe, agitated different corners of the European intellectual scene. From modern Epicureanism to medical Newtonianism, from Stahlian animism to the discourse on the ‘animal economy’ in vitalist medicine, models (...)
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  24. Do Organisms Have an Ontological Status?Charles T. Wolfe - 2010 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 32 (2-3):195-232.
    The category of ‘organism’ has an ambiguous status: is it scientific or is it philosophical? Or, if one looks at it from within the relatively recent field or sub-field of philosophy of biology, is it a central, or at least legitimate category therein, or should it be dispensed with? In any case, it has long served as a kind of scientific “bolstering” for a philosophical train of argument which seeks to refute the “mechanistic” or “reductionist” trend, which has been perceived (...)
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  25. Organismal Natures.Devin Henry - 2008 - Apeiron (3):47-74.
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  26. Vitalism Without Metaphysics? Medical Vitalism in the Enlightenment.Charles T. Wolfe - 2008 - Science in Context 21 (4):461-463.
    This is the introduction to a special issue of 'Science in Context' on vitalism that I edited. The contents are: 1. Guido Giglioni — “What Ever Happened to Francis Glisson? Albrecht Haller and the Fate of Eighteenth-Century Irritability” 2. Dominique Boury— “Irritability and Sensibility: Two Key Concepts in Assessing the Medical Doctrines of Haller and Bordeu” 3. Tobias Cheung — “Regulating Agents, Functional Interactions, and Stimulus-Reaction-Schemes: The Concept of “Organism” in the Organic System Theories of Stahl, Bordeu and Barthez” 4. (...)
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  27. The Fundamental Principles of Existence and the Origin of Physical Laws.Attila Grandpierre - 2002 - Ultimate Reality and Meaning 25 (2):127-147.
    Our concept of the universe and the material world is foundational for our thinking and our moral lives. In an earlier contribution to the URAM project I presented what I called 'the ultimate organizational principle' of the universe. In that article (Grandpierre 2000, pp. 12-35) I took as an adversary the wide-spread system of thinking which I called 'materialism'. According to those who espouse this way of thinking, the universe consists of inanimate units or sets of material such as atoms (...)
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  28. Hans Drieschs Argumente Für den Vitalismus.Marcel Weber - 1999 - Philosophia Naturalis 36 (2):263-293.
    Ich rekonstruiere und kritisiere Hans Drieschs Argumentation für die Behauptung, daß biologischen Prozessen nur eine substanzdualistische Ontologie der belebten Materie (Vitalismus) gerecht werden kann. Meine Diagnose lautet, daß Drieschs Argumentation zwar logisch schlüssig ist bzw. durch leichte Modifikationen in eine logisch gültige Form gebracht werden kann, aber von empirisch unbegründeten, metaphysischen Prämissen über die Möglichkeiten eines energieumwandelnden Mechanismus ausgeht.
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