Starting in June 2012, a series of articles in the journal Nature and in the online journals of the Public Library of Science made public the first results of a massive, international collaborative scientific endeavor known as the “Human Microbiome Project” . This project, which is attempting to categorize the vast number of microbiological species and organisms that live in and on the “healthy” human body, raises important questions about what it means to be a whole individual organism, especially if (...) that individual involves a community of some hundreds of trillions of others. In this article, we will explore a handful of political, ethical, and philosophical issues that this new research raises .. (shrink)
In this book, Russell Winslow analyzes contemporary discourses in microbiology and evolutionary inheritance theory to foreground the metaphysical prejudices that unreflectively subtend these discourses, highlight and illuminate an emergent prejudice of an ecological ontology in microbiology, and determine what interpretive possibilities it affords.
In book 3 of his Republic, Plato has Socrates undertake an assessment of the educational curriculum that the city (which is being constructed by him in speech) will implement for its youth. Consequently we see that Socrates assigns to poetry a crucial importance; by their imitation of it, poetry shapes the citizens with an initial formation, casts them within a certain orientation, and places them on a path leading in an already conceived direction, toward some unarticulated good. Thus, in forming (...) this city and the souls of its citizens, Socrates first conducts a censorship of the content of the formative myths of the city in an attempt to orchestrate a certain fail-safe against ambiguity and against falling off .. (shrink)
In “On the Life of thinking in Aristotle’s De Anima,” the author offers an interpretation of the tripartite structure of the unified soul in Aristotle’s text. The principleactivity that unities the nutritive, sensuously perceptive and noetically perceptive parts of the soul into a single, continuous entity is shown by our author to be genesis (or the sexual begetting of offspring). After establishing this observation, the paper provides the textual grounds to understand how both sensuous and noetic perception can be understood (...) as a kind of embodied genesis. A further consequence of this argument will be an interpretation of “thinking,” of noetic perception, as a kind of open and passive reception of the primary forms of other beings. As such, Aristotle’s conception of thinking, qua nous, is a refreshing, if strange, contrast to the more common modern vision of “thinking” as the activity of an agent mentally seizing hold of beings in the service of the mastery of nature. (shrink)
This essay pursues an interpretation of epagôgê in Aristotle in order to challenge the current claims in the scholarship that Aristotle’s method of discovery is, on the one hand, empirical or, on the other hand, a priori. In contrast to these claims, this essay offers a reading of the Analytica in conjunction with the Physics in order to propose the following: if we are to think through Aristotle’s method of discovery, we must first unhinge ourselves from the oppositional paradigm of (...) empirical contra conceptual. Through the example of Aristotle’s inquiry into nature, it is shown that Aristotle’s method of discovery is, at once, one intimately betrothed to “conceptual” (or, more properly, “dialogical”) resources, while also subtended by a comportment itself wakeful and perceptive of the being undergoing inquiry. (shrink)
In the following article, the author offers an interpretation of George Canguilhem’s thinly articulated concept “biological meaning.” As a way into the problem, the article begins with the question: how does “biological meaning” differ from other forms of meaning? That is to ask, if we are to hold that the mere physical/chemical mode of being of a stone differs from the biological mode of being of an organism, how do they differ in their meaning? In an effort to supply an (...) answer to this question, our author postulates that, when we consider the lived circumstances of the organism, the existential situation of living beings, their biological facticity, then we intuit a fundamental difference in the mode of being of the motions of billiard balls and those of organisms. Moreover, through the investigation into, on the one hand, the motions that take place in a living milieu and, on the other hand, the form of potentiality inherent in what we might call the motions of adaptation, the author offers a preliminary description of a meaning that might be uniquely biological. (shrink)
During the Enlightenment period the concept of the infinitesimal was developed as a means to solve the mathematical problem of the incommensurability between human reason and the movements of physical beings. In this essay, the author analyzes the metaphysical prejudices subtending Enlightenment Humanism through the lens of the infinitesimal calculus. One of the consequences of this analysis is the perception of a two-fold possibility occasioned by the infinitesimal. On the one hand, it occasions an extreme form of humanism, “transhumanism,” which (...) exhibits limitless confidence in the possibility of human science. On the other hand, the concept of the infinitesimal also contains within itself a source for a critical “posthumanism,” that is to say, a source which initiates the dissolution of the presuppositions of humanism while simultaneously announcing a different ontological organization. In, Tostoy’s novel takes up the problem of the relation between reason and motion and makes the two-fold possibility visible by presenting a contrast between its theoretical presentations and the lived experiences of the characters in the novel. Thus, is the setting in which the author has chosen to conduct this analysis. (shrink)