From substantival to functional vitalism and beyond: animas, organisms and attitudes


Authors
Charles T. Wolfe
University of Ghent
Abstract
I distinguish between ‘substantival’ and ‘functional’ forms of vitalism in the eighteenth century. Substantival vitalism presupposes the existence of a (substantive) vital force which either plays a causal role in the natural world as studied scientifically, or remains an immaterial, extra-causal entity. Functional vitalism tends to operate ‘post facto’, from the existence of living bodies to the search for explanatory models that will account for their uniquely ‘vital’ properties better than fully mechanistic models can. I discuss representative figures of the Montpellier school (Bordeu, Ménuret, Fouquet) as functional rather than substantival vitalists, and suggest an additional point regarding the reprisal of vitalism(s) in the 20th century, from Driesch to Canguilhem: that in addition to the substantival and functional varieties, we encounter a third species of vitalism, which I term ‘attitudinal’, as it argues for vitalism as a kind of attitude.
Keywords vitalism, organism, organization, Enlightenment
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Disentangling the Vitalism–Emergentism Knot.Olivier Sartenaer - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (1):73-88.
A non-metaphysical evaluation of vitalism in the early twentieth century.Bohang Chen - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (3):50.
“What is Living and What is Dead” in Materialism?John H. Zammito - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 67:89-96.

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