Nineteenth-century life sciences and Hegel's organic view of systems

Arnold D (2000)
Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University.

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Bielefeld Dissertation | English
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Wolff, Michael (Prof. Dr.)
Abstract
Hegel characterizes many different systems as "organic": plants, animals, the system of the idea, the discipline of philosophy, the state and many others. In doing so, he does not merely posit a loose analogy between these systems and plants and animals; instead, he proposes that the organism concept is a fundamental thought determination, with a suitable place in the logic. In short, he argues that all "organic" objects share essential qualities: They consist of members which are simultaneously the means and end of the whole; they are organized around a fundamental concept that serves to unite them; they have a form, and they undergo the processes of assimilation and reproduction. Because he explicates properties that belong to all systems, we ought to view Hegel as precursing many of the views of early systems theoreticians. He does so, however, against a quite different historical and philosophical background. For Hegel the views of Kant and early-nineteenth-century scientists are essential. The ideas developed about systems in the logic lean heavily on Kant, for Kant also views many systems as organic. Hegel, however, argues that the organic perspective is more fundamental than Kant thinks. For Kant the teleological principle has a mere regulative function. It is fitting as a heuristic tool for making sense of some realities, but it does not tell us how things are constituted; so it essentially has a secondary status. Further, because of this, the life sciences are not considered "real" ("eigentliche") sciences. Mechanics retains a clear position of dominance in Kant's worldview. Hegel was one of the first thinkers to register complaint about Kant's mechanistic worldview. By incorporating the principle of teleology and the concept of the organism into the logic, Hegel provides the philosophical basis to the life sciences that is missing in Kant and that he and Kant both think is necessary in order for a discipline to attain the status of a real science. Given that the principle of organics is anchored in the logic, the science can be justified from the bottom up. Its foundations are secure. Although Hegel claims that he deduces the concept of the organism in the logic, his thoughts about the organism also strongly resemble the general thoughts about organisms developed by early-nineteenth-century organicists. And while this is often viewed als indicating that Hegel does not deduce these concepts, this is not really a necessary consequence; for Hegel also argues that the discipline of philosophy thanks the empirical sciences its own development. Is this a case in which the developments in an empirical science help us to understand the forms of thought that we have applied all along, but have failed to understand? Does organics shed light on some of the murkier sides of human consciousness? Despite the importance Hegel ascribes to organics, he does not view it as pre-empting all the other sciences. Instead, he thinks that there are mechanical, chemical and organic objects and that the disciplines of mechanics, chemistry and organics each have legitimate spheres of influence.
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Arnold D. Nineteenth-century life sciences and Hegel's organic view of systems. Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University; 2000.
Arnold, D. (2000). Nineteenth-century life sciences and Hegel's organic view of systems. Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University.
Arnold, D. (2000). Nineteenth-century life sciences and Hegel's organic view of systems. Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University.
Arnold, D., 2000. Nineteenth-century life sciences and Hegel's organic view of systems, Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University.
D. Arnold, Nineteenth-century life sciences and Hegel's organic view of systems, Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University, 2000.
Arnold, D.: Nineteenth-century life sciences and Hegel's organic view of systems. Bielefeld University, Bielefeld (Germany) (2000).
Arnold, Darrell. Nineteenth-century life sciences and Hegel's organic view of systems. Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University, 2000.
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