Hegel’s anti-reductionist account of organic nature

Intellectual History Review 31 (3):479-494 (2021)
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Recent scholarship has analyzed Hegel’s account of life in the Logic in some detail and has suggested that Hegel provides ways of thinking about organic phenomena that might still be fruitful for us today. However, it failed to clearly distinguish this account from Hegel’s discussion of natural organisms in his Philosophy of Nature and to assess the latter philosophically. In particular, it has not yet been properly discussed that some things that Hegel says about organic phenomena there suggest that his position is objectionably vitalist in that he believes investigating physical and chemical properties of organisms is irrelevant for understanding organic phenomena. I argue that Hegel’s core account of life does not imply this sort of a vitalist position. While some claims Hegel makes suggest that he believed inorganic sciences to be of no relevance for understanding organic phenomena, his core position is that they are merely not sufficient for the full understanding of such phenomena. From this discussion I draw a further consequence that the multi-level structure of nature presented in the Philosophy of Nature points to different properties of natural objects, rather than to distinct domains of objects.



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Anton Kabeshkin
Universität Potsdam

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Vitalizing Nature in the Enlightenment.Peter Hanns Reill - 2006 - Journal of the History of Biology 39 (1):199-203.
Hegel’s “Idea of Life” and Internal Purposiveness.Daniel Lindquist - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (2):376-408.
Logical and natural life in Hegel.Anton Kabeshkin - 2022 - European Journal of Philosophy 30 (1):129-147.

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