Beyond the Autopoietic Principle? A Preliminary Analysis of the Freudian Cell

Body and Society 13 (1):21-40 (2007)
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This article begins with the question, is mind prefigured in life? Andreas Webber and Francisco Varela argue that the autopoietic model in combination with Jonas's theory of metabolism provide a more robust model than Kant's account of natural teleology in the third critique, and thus it is able to make a claim to, at least, a pre-figuration of human freedom. I argue that Freud's illustration of the death drive via the analogy of the cell in Beyond the Pleasure Principle provides a valuable counter-example to Jonas's conception of metabolism and exposes the type of metaphysical assumptions that the Kantian project was so averse to. My intention here is not to reify either Jonas or Freud's claims on the determinative nature of natural causation; rather it is to argue that each exists as valuable heuristic tools. Any causal determinative judgment on the nature of natural teleology must be exercised with nothing less than a Kantian level of caution as the implication of placing the value of the coherence of our conceptual structures over the actual mechanical processes of the natural world confronts us with the direct risk of misrecognition on a massive scale.



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The phenomenon of life: toward a philosophical biology.Hans Jonas - 1966 - Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press.
Autopoiesis, adaptivity, teleology, agency.Ezequiel A. Di Paolo - 2005 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 4 (4):429-452.
Autopoiesis, Adaptivity, Teleology, Agency.Ezequiel A. Di Paolo - 2005 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 4 (4):429-452.

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