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  1. From Substantival to Functional Vitalism and Beyond: Animas, Organisms and Attitudes.Charles T. Wolfe - 2011 - Eidos: Revista de Filosofía de la Universidad Del Norte 14:212-235.
    I distinguish between ‘substantival’ and ‘functional’ forms of vitalism in the eighteenth century. Substantival vitalism presupposes the existence of a (substantive) vital force which either plays a causal role in the natural world as studied scientifically, or remains an immaterial, extra-causal entity. Functional vitalism tends to operate ‘post facto’, from the existence of living bodies to the search for explanatory models that will account for their uniquely ‘vital’ properties better than fully mechanistic models can. I discuss representative figures of the (...)
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  • Between biology and chemistry in the Enlightenment: how nutrition shapes vital organization. Buffon, Bonnet, C.F. Wolff.Cécilia Bognon-Küss - 2019 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 41 (1):11.
    This paper seeks to characterize how the study of nutrition processes contributed to revisit the problem of vital organization in the late eighteenth century. It argues that focusing on nutrition leads to reformulate the problem of the relation between life and organization in terms of processes, rather than static or given structures. This nutrition-centered approach to life amounts to acknowledge the specific strategic role nutrition played in the development of a materialist approach to the generation of vital organization. The paper (...)
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  • Epigenesis by experience: Romantic empiricism and non-Kantian biology.Amanda Jo Goldstein - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (1):13.
    Reconstructions of Romantic-era life science in general, and epigenesis in particular, frequently take the Kantian logic of autotelic “self-organization” as their primary reference point. I argue in this essay that the Kantian conceptual rubric hinders our historical and theoretical understanding of epigenesis, Romantic and otherwise. Neither a neutral gloss on epigenesis, nor separable from the epistemological deflation of biological knowledge that has received intensive scrutiny in the history and philosophy of science, Kant’s heuristics of autonomous “self-organization” in the third Critique (...)
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  • Philosophy of nature and organism’s autonomy: on Hegel, Plessner and Jonas’ theories of living beings.Francesca Michelini, Matthias Wunsch & Dirk Stederoth - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (3):56.
    Following the revival in the last decades of the concept of “organism”, scholarly literature in philosophy of science has shown growing historical interest in the theory of Immanuel Kant, one of the “fathers” of the concept of self-organisation. Yet some recent theoretical developments suggest that self-organisation alone cannot fully account for the all-important dimension of autonomy of the living. Autonomy appears to also have a genuine “interactive” dimension, which concerns the organism’s functional interactions with the environment and does not simply (...)
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  • 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 Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:151-161.
    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 masked, often normative, throughout the history of biology. Indeed, it has often been presented as a key-concept in life science and its ‘theorization’, but conversely has also been the target of influential rejections: as just an instrument of transmission for the (...)
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  • “What is Living and What is Dead” in Materialism?John H. Zammito - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 67:89-96.
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  • The Return of the Organism as a Fundamental Explanatory Concept in Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (5):347-359.
    Although it may seem like a truism to assert that biology is the science that studies organisms, during the second half of the twentieth century the organism category disappeared from biological theory. Over the past decade, however, biology has begun to witness the return of the organism as a fundamental explanatory concept. There are three major causes: (a) the realization that the Modern Synthesis does not provide a fully satisfactory understanding of evolution; (b) the growing awareness of the limits of (...)
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  • 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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  • Descartes and the Dissolution of Life.Barnaby R. Hutchins - 2016 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 54 (2):155-173.
    I argue that Descartes is not a reductionist about life, but dissolves or eliminates the category entirely. This is surprising both because he repeatedly refers to the life of humans, animals, and plants and because he appears to rely on the category of life to construct his physiology and medicine. Various attempts have been made in the scholarship to attribute a principled concept of life to Descartes. Most recently, Detlefsen has argued that Descartes “is a reductionist with respect to explanation (...)
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