Synthetic Biology and the Golem of Prague: Philosophical Reflections on a Suggestive Metaphor

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 55 (4):554-570 (2012)
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Abstract

Not only the public debate about science but even the way scientists conceive their own work is to some extent determined by cultural images. In the case of synthetic biology, literary figures like the Golem of Prague and its successors, such as Frankenstein’s monster, seem to suggest themselves. This article reconstructs some cognitive structures underlying the surface of metaphorical thinking and shows how talking about synthetic biology as similar to Golem-making obscures important onto- logical, pragmatic, and ethical differences.

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Ulrich Charpa
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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