• Di Maio, Dario (Principal Investigator)

Project Details


The project addresses Hegel’s philosophical stance concerning the nature of organismic life, which in contemporary terms might be defined as his philosophy of biology. It asks how Hegel assesses the ontological status of living organisms, the purposive features of living systems, and the relation between life and cognition. It further asks whether Hegel’s philosophy of biology can be interpreted as a theory of biological autonomy. While extensive literature has been devoted to Kant’s philosophy of biology, Hegel's work on this topic remains largely unexplored. This is due to a long-lasting preconception against his philosophy of nature, which originated in the nineteenth century and still reigns today. The challenge of the project is to remove this preconception. The term “biological autonomy” was coined by biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela to define the ability of a living system to produce and maintain itself.
My working hypothesis is that the framework of biological autonomy provides the most effective template for re-reading Hegel today and that Hegel’s theory of biological individuality is extremely useful for those who aim to lay the philosophical groundwork for the articulation of a biologically compelling theoretical alternative to the mechanistic conception of life.

Alternative titleHegel's Philosophy of Biology
Effective start/end date1/02/1731/01/20


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