Despite hundreds of definitions, no consensus exists on a definition of life or on the closely related and problematic definitions of the organism and death. These problems retard practical and theoretical development in, for example, exobiology, artificial life, biology and evolution. This paper suggests improving this situation by basing definitions on a theory of a generalized particle hierarchy. This theory uses the common denominator of the “operator” for a unified ranking of both particles and organisms, from elementary particles to animals (...) with brains. Accordingly, this ranking is called “the operator hierarchy”. This hierarchy allows life to be defined as: matter with the configuration of an operator, and that possesses a complexity equal to, or even higher than the cellular operator. Living is then synonymous with the dynamics of such operators and the word organism refers to a select group of operators that fit the definition of life. The minimum condition defining an organism is its existence as an operator, construction thus being more essential than metabolism, growth or reproduction. In the operator hierarchy, every organism is associated with a specific closure, for example, the nucleus in eukaryotes. This allows death to be defined as: the state in which an organism has lost its closure following irreversible deterioration of its organization. The generality of the operator hierarchy also offers a context to discuss “life as we do not know it”. The paper ends with testing the definition’s practical value with a range of examples. (shrink)
Attempts to define life should focus on the transition from molecules to cells and the “closure” aspects of this event. Rather than classifying existing objects into living and non-living entities I believe the challenge is to understand how the transition from non-life to life can take place, that is, the how the closure in Jagers op Akkerhuis’s hierarchical classification of operators, comes about.
The comments focus on a presumed circular reasoning in the operator hierarchy and the necessity of understanding life’s origin for defining life. Below it is shown that its layered structure prevents the operator hierarchy from circular definitions. It is argued that the origin of life is an insufficient basis for a definition of life that includes multicellular and neural network organisms.
A vision of a living code of ethics is proposed to counter the emphasis on negative phenomena in the study of organizational ethics. The living code results from the harmonious interaction of authentic leadership, five key organizational processes (attraction–selection–attrition, socialization, reward systems, decision-making and organizational learning), and an ethical organizational culture (characterized by heightened levels of ethical awareness and a positive climate regarding ethics). The living code is the cognitive, affective, and behavioral manifestation of an ethical organizational identity. We draw (...) on business ethics literature, positive organizational scholarship, and management literature to outline the elements of positive ethical organizations as those exemplary organizations consistently practicing the highest levels of organizational ethics. In a positive ethical organization, the right thing to do is the only thing to do. (shrink)
This paper examines the philosophical substructure to the theoretical conflicts that permeate contemporary mental health care in the UK. Theoretical conflicts are treated here as those that arise among practitioners holding divergent theoretical orientations towards the phenomena being treated. Such conflicts, although steeped in history, have become revitalized by recent attempts at integrating mental health services that have forced diversely trained practitioners to work collaboratively together, often under one roof. Part I of this paper examines how the history of these (...) conflicts can be understood as a tension between, on the one hand, the medical model and its use by the dominant profession of psychiatry, and on the other, those alternative models and practitioners in some way differentiated from the medical model camp. Examples will be given from recent policy and research to highlight the prevalence of this tension in contemporary practice. Part II of this paper explores the deeper commonalities that lay beneath the theoretical conflict outlined in Part I. These commonalities will be shown to be apart of a captivating framework that has continued to grip the conflict since its inception. By exposing this underlying framework--and the motivations inherent therein--the topic of integration appears in wholly different light, allowing a renewed philosophical basis for integration to emerge. (shrink)
It is possible to predict future life forms? In this paper it is argued that the answer to this question may well be positive. As a basis for predictions a rationale is used that is derived from historical data, e.g. from a hierarchical classification that ranks all building block systems, that have evolved so far. This classification is based on specific emergent properties that allow stepwise transitions, from low level building blocks to higher level ones. This paper shows how this (...) hierarchy can be used for predicting future life forms.The extrapolations suggest several future neural network organisms. Major aspects of the structures of these organisms are predicted. The results can be considered of fundamental importance for several reasons. Firstly, assuming that the operator hierarchy is a proper basis for predictions, the result yields insight into the structure of future organisms. Secondly, the predictions are not extrapolations of presently observed trends, but are fully integrated with all historical system transitions in evolution. Thirdly, the extrapolations suggest the structures of intelligences that, one day, will possess more powerful brains than human beings. (shrink)
This article inquires into that which articulates the two texts brought together by Heidegger in Identity and Difference. It sets out from the indications provided in the Preface of the work concerning the “harmony” that reigns between what is at stake at the heart of the two texts, namely what Heidegger respectively calls the Ereignis (event of appropriation) and the Austrag (reconciling difference). The understanding of this harmony makes it possible to approach that which unveils itself as the articulation of (...) Being, but in so doing also raises the difficult problem of the very possibility of thinking Being setting out from its essential withdrawal. (shrink)
In my response to the paper by Jagers op Akkerhuis, I object against giving definitions of life, since they bias anything that follows. As we don’t know how life originated, authors characterise life using criteria derived from present-day properties, thus emphasising widely different ones, which gives bias to their further analysis. This makes their results dependent on their initial suppositions, which introduces circularity in their reasoning.
In his notes and lectures on anthropology, Kant explicitly refers to Alexander Gerard's 1774 Essay on Genius, and his own position that genius is necessary for art but not for science is clearly a response to Gerard. Kant does not explicitly mention Gerard's 1759 Essay on Taste, but it was probably an influence on his own conception of free play, and in any case a comparison of the two theories of aesthetic response is instructive. Gerard's development (...) of a version of the theory of free play without Kant's assumptions that aesthetic judgments must be independent of concepts and yet always intersubjectively valid allows him to accommodate a variety of facts about aesthetic experience in general and our experience of the fine arts in particular more readily and more fully than Kant can, especially those concerning the affective dimension of our experience of art. (shrink)
Jorge Luis Borges is working for decades now on the execution of the nightmare. Perhaps his most celebrated instance is "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius ". It would take much work to sift the fabricated references in Borges' works from the ones deliberately misread from the over-emphasis on an author's casual remark, etc.
Jean Wagemans: Redelijkheid en overredingskracht van argumentatie. Een historisch-filosofische studie over de combinatie van het dialectische en het retorische perspectief op argumentatie in de pragma-dialectische argumentatietheorie (Reasonableness and Persuasiveness of Argumentation. An Historical-Philosophical Study on the Combination of the Dialectical and Rhetorical Perspective on Argumentation in the Pragma-Dialectical Argumentation Theory) Content Type Journal Article Pages 123-125 DOI 10.1007/s10503-010-9197-0 Authors Paul Gillaerts, Lessius University College, Antwerp, Belgium Journal Argumentation Online ISSN 1572-8374 Print ISSN 0920-427X Journal Volume Volume 25 Journal Issue Volume (...) 25, Number 1. (shrink)
Herbert McCabe, OP (d. 2001), was a significant theological figure in England in the last century. A scholar of Aquinas, he was also influenced by Wittgenstein and Marx, his reading of whom helped him articulate a distinctive Thomistic account of human embodiment that serves as a critique of other dominant approaches in ethics. This article shows McCabe's contribution to moral theology by placing his work in conversation with other important approaches, namely, situation ethics, proportionalism, and the New Natural Law Theory.
In this paper I shall discuss the relationship between the two known Arabic translations of Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics and Avicenna’s Kitāb al-Burhān. I shall argue that Avicenna relies on both (1) Abū Bishr Mattā’s translation and (2) the anonymous translation used by Averroes in the Long Commentary as well as in the Middle Commentary (and also indirectly preserved by Gerard of Cremona’s Latin translation of Aristotle’s work). Although, generally speaking, the problem is relevant to the history of the transmission (...) of the Posterior Analytics from Greek through Syriac into Arabic, I do not intend to give a systematic presentation of the historical setting in which Aristotle’s work became readily available to the Arabo-Islamic culture. My aim here is rather to isolate and discuss some pieces of evidence concerning the texts that seem to have been available to Avicenna. In addition to that, I shall also provide evidence concerning the relationship with the Greek commentary tradition (in particular Philoponus and Themistius) that is likely to have influenced Avicenna in his discussion of Aristotle’s theory of demonstration and scientific knowledge. (shrink)
This paper is a piece of detective work. Starting from an obvious excrescence in the transmitted text of Simplicius's treatment of the foundations of Presocratic atomism near the beginning of his "Physics" commentary, it excavates a Theophrastean correction to Aristotle's tendency to lump Leucippus and Democritus together: Theophrastus made application of the οὐ μ[unrepresentable symbol]λλον principle in the sphere of ontology an innovation by Democritus. Along the way it shows Simplicius reordering his Theophrastean source in his efforts to find material (...) which will strengthen the contrast between Leucippus's atomism and Eleatic metaphysics. And it argues that in doing so he all but obliterates Theophrastus's attempt to point up the Democritean credentials of the οὐ μ[unrepresentable symbol]λλον principle. (shrink)
The following paper discusses John of St. Thomas’ study of the way in which a habit (moral or epistemic virtue or vice) is a cause of an action it prompts. I begin with contrasting the question of causality of habits with the general question of the causal relevance of dispositions (2). I argue that habits constitute a very peculiar kind of dispositions marked by the connection with the properties of being difficult and being easy, and there are some special reasons (...) to admit the irreducibility of dispositions of this kind. I argue also that there is a special sort of causal connection between a habit and an action it actually prompts. Then I present an analysis of four theses of John of St. Thomas on the causality of habits, which, I think, constitute the most mature and reliable study of the causality of habits in the scholastic tradition: (i) Habits are efficient causes of actions they prompt (3.1). (ii) Virtues do determine the very natures of actions they prompt (3.2); (iii) Virtues do not have a proper counterpart among the characteristics of actions they prompt (3.3); (iv) The formal object of causality of virtue is a masterpiece performance of an action (3.4). In my analyses of John’s arguments for these theses I make three claims: not all powers are “in state of readiness for action”; habits are powers of powers or dispositions of powers; the general concept of a strategy is the key to grasp the properties of being difficult and being easy, and habits should be analysed as a kind of strategies. (shrink)