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Conditions of Knowability of Organic Life

Hueck, Christoph (2024) Conditions of Knowability of Organic Life. [Preprint]

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This article focuses on the epistemological challenges of comprehending organic life. It explores the cognitive and experiential basis of the perspective that organisms are autonomous agents of their own teleological organization and development. According to Immanuel Kant and Hans Jonas, the conditions of the knowability of organic life lie within our mental faculties and inner experiences. This statement is often interpreted to mean that we cannot attain ontological knowledge about the life of an organism. Alternatively, attempts are made to “naturalize” life, i.e. to explain the self-generating capacity of an organism from the interaction of its material components. In contrast, I posit that through the active mental representation of biological processes, such as the development of a plant, we can gain first-person insight into the life forces at play, suggesting a profound connection between our cognitive processes and the dynamic and teleological nature of life. Specifically, the parallels between life and our mental capacities lie in a blend of sensory perception, imaginative activity, conceptual thought, and the agential self, mirroring the physical structure and the autopoietic, teleological and agential organization of a living organism. It is shown that these parallels comprise four types of subject-object relationships. I propose and discuss that this correlation is not merely an analogy but reflects a deep ontological correspondence between life and mind and that this correspondence can provide empirical access to the study of life through first-person experience. I advocate for a re-evaluation of the materialistic view of nature to include qualities and experiences of life and mind, proposing that life’s properties can be “naturalized” by recognizing them as qualities we experience mentally. Overall, I call for a broader approach to understanding life that incorporates both empirical evidence and phenomenological, first-person experiences.

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Item Type: Preprint
Hueck, Christophhueck@akanthos-akademie.de0009-0008-2513-1919
Keywords: Agency; Autopoiesis; Epistemology; Hans Jonas; Immanuel Kant; Organism; Subject-Object Relation; Teleology
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Depositing User: Dr. Christoph J. Hueck
Date Deposited: 05 May 2024 08:33
Last Modified: 05 May 2024 08:33
Item ID: 23350
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Date: 28 April 2024

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