The Principle of Life: from Aristotelian Psyche to Drieschian Entelechy

Ludus Vitalis 24 (45):37-59 (2016)
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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 empirical proof of the principle of life, which he called entelechy. Entelechy is an intensive manifoldness and cannot be comprehended by the usual extensive parameters. The entelechian's own ambiance is duration. This allows the reintroduction of the concept of teleology in the sphere of the living, understood not as a final cause, but as an order born from desire and leading to action.
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