Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):31-52 (2013)
According to vitalism, living organisms differ from machines and all other inanimate objects by being endowed with an indwelling immaterial directive agency, ‘vital force,’ or entelechy . While support for vitalism fell away in the late nineteenth century many biologists in the early twentieth century embraced a non vitalist philosophy variously termed organicism/holism/emergentism which aimed at replacing the actions of an immaterial spirit with what was seen as an equivalent but perfectly natural agency—the emergent autonomous activity of the whole organism. Organicists hold that organisms unlike machines are ‘more than the sum of their parts’ and predict that the vital properties of living things can never be explained in terms of mechanical analogies and that the reductionist agenda is doomed to failure. Here we review the current status of the mechanist and organicist conceptions of life particularly as they apply to the cell. We argue that despite the advances in biological knowledge over the past six decades since the molecular biological revolution, especially in the fields of genetics and cell biology the unique properties of living cells have still not been simulated in mechanical systems nor yielded to reductionist—analytical explanations. And we conclude that despite the dominance of the mechanistic–reductionist paradigm through most of the past century the possibility of a twentyfirst century organicist revival cannot be easily discounted
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
References found in this work BETA
Citations of this work BETA
Heidegger and the Human Difference.Chad Engelland - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (1):175-193.
The Return of the Organism as a Fundamental Explanatory Concept in Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (5):347-359.
Similar books and articles
Emergence, Therefore Antireductionism? A Critique of Emergent Antireductionism.Tudor Baetu - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (3):433-448.
Organicism and Reductionism in Cancer Research: Towards a Systemic Approach.Christophe Malaterre - 2007 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):57 – 73.
Mechanism and Vitalism. A History of the Controversy.Geert Jan M. Klerk - 1979 - Acta Biotheoretica 28 (1).
Reflections on a Theory of Organisms: Holism in Biology.Walter M. Elsasser - 1987 - Published for the Johns Hopkins Dept. Of Earth and Planetary Sciences by the Johns Hopkins University Press.
Amoebae as Exemplary Cells: The Protean Nature of an Elementary Organism. [REVIEW]Andrew Reynolds - 2008 - Journal of the History of Biology 41 (2):307 - 337.
From Substantival to Functional Vitalism and Beyond.Charles T. Wolfe - 2010 - Eidos: Revista de Filosofía de la Universidad Del Norte 14:212-235.
The Cell: Locus or Object of Inquiry?William Bechtel - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (3):172-182.
Why Machine-Information Metaphors Are Bad for Science and Science Education.Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry - 2011 - Science and Education 20 (453):471.
Complex Biological Mechanisms: Cyclic, Oscillatory, and Autonomous.William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen - unknown
Teleomechanism Redux? The Conceptual Hybridity of Living Machines in Early Modern Natural Philosophy.Charles T. Wolfe - manuscript
Ontological Tensions in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Chemistry: Between Mechanism and Vitalism.Marina Paola Banchetti-Robino - 2011 - Foundations of Chemistry 13 (3):173-186.
Added to index2011-09-01
Total downloads56 ( #93,022 of 2,163,984 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #62,484 of 2,163,984 )
How can I increase my downloads?