Does Organicism Really Need Organization ?

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    The main purpose of the present chapter is to argue in favor of the claim that, contrary to what is usually and tacitly assumed, organization is not necessary for organicism. To this purpose, I first set up the stage by providing a working characterization of organicism that involves two free parameters, whose variations allow for covering the rich and diverse conceptual landscape of organicism, past and present. In particular, I contend that organization is usually construed as a “mean to an end” notion, or as a tool put at the service of vindicating organicism’s twofold defining assumption, namely, that organisms are determinative entities in their own right, to the effect that (organismic) biology is epistemologically autonomous from physico-chemistry. After a short detour devoted to show that organicism generally collapses on a spectrum of variants of emergentism, I take inspiration from a recent account of emergence called “transformational emergence” to put forward a transformational version of organicism. For such a version meets organicism’s defining standards in a way that is free of any commitment to organization, arguing for its very conceptual soundness finally allows for legitimizing the claim that organicism doesn’t really need organization.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOrganization in Biology
    EditorsMatteo Mossio
    Place of PublicationDordrecht
    PublisherSpringer Verlag
    Number of pages23
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

    Publication series

    NameHistory, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences
    ISSN (Print)2211-1948
    ISSN (Electronic)2211-1956


    • Diachronic emergence
    • Downward determination
    • Emergence
    • Organicism
    • Organization
    • Transformational emergence
    • Transformational organicism


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