Life and Mind: The Common Tetradic Structure of Organism and Consciousness – a Phenomenological Approach

Dialectical Systems: A Forum in Biology, Ecology, and Cognitive Science (2024)
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Abstract

The question of the holistic structure of an organism is a recurring theme in the philosophy of biology and has been increasingly discussed again in recent years. Organisms have recently been described as complex systems that autonomously create, maintain and reproduce themselves while constantly interacting with their environment. Key focal points include their autopoiesis, autonomy, agency and teleological structure. This perspective marks a significant advancement from the 20th-century viewpoint, which predominantly saw organisms as genetically programmed, randomly generated and blindly selected survival-machines. However, crucial questions about the shape and development of organisms still lack answers. Shape and development are deeply interconnected and seem to require a holistic approach. Here, I will briefly outline a phenomenological perspective which could provide a framework for seeking answers to these fundamental questions. In particular, I propose a common four-fold phenomenal structure of the developing organism and the cognising consciousness, which makes it possible to observe the agential and teleological structure of the organism "from within". This fourfold structure also describes the molecular level and thus provides a general organismic concept. It furthermore corresponds to the four Aristotelian "causes" (conditions).

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Christoph Hueck
Akanthos Academy Stuttgart

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