Welcome to the Vitalism learning project.
Vitalism is the idea that living organisms cannot be entirely explained in terms of the same forces and materials that account for the behavior of non-living objects. According to vitalism, there must be some additional "vital force" present in living organisms that distinguishes the living state from the non-living.
Vitalism is a natural philosophical position for humans who have no knowledge of the details of physical matter. Recognition of the molecular basis of life allows for a materialistic philosophical position which adopts the hypothesis that the same physical laws govern both living and non-living objects.
This learning project offers learning activities that review the history of vitalism as a theory of the living state.
Concepts to learn include how conceptual understanding of living organisms has changed through time and how modern science's approach to the study of life differs from pre-scientific ideas about life.
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- Chemistry and consciousness - a Biochemistry survey course; can all aspects of life be accounted for in terms of chemical processes?
- On the Soul: discussion group - Was Aristotle a Vitalist?
- History of organic chemistry at Wikibooks
- 1896 Matter and Memory by Henri Bergson, one of the last great advocates of Vitalism.
- The soul and the brain between anatomy and Naturphilosophie in the early nineteenth century by M. Hagner. (1992)
- 1996 Daniel Dennett's book "Kinds of Minds", Chapter 2. Dennett wrote, "Dualism...and Vitalism (the view that living things contain some some special physical but equally mysterious stuff-élan vital) have been relegated to the trash heap of history...."
- 1998 Bechtel, W. and Richardson, R. (1998). Vitalism. In E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge.
- 2005 On the Vitality of Vitalism by Monica Greco - comments on the continuing vitality of vitalism. (Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 22, No. 1, 15-27)
- Qi - Wikipedia article about a non-Western conceptualization of "life force".
- Read about vitalism (see the section above)
- Discuss vitalism (see next section)
- A Conversation with Rupert Sheldrake - interview by John David Ebert. How does the work of Rupert Sheldrake relate to Vitalism?
Additional helpful readings include:
Active participants in this Learning Group
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Analytic: G.E.M. Anscombe · Alfred Jules Ayer · Isaiah Berlin · Simon Blackburn · Ned Block · Laurence BonJour · Robert Brandom · David Chalmers · Roderick Chisholm ·Noam Chomsky · Patricia Churchland · Paul Churchland · Donald Davidson · Daniel Dennett · Fred Dretske · Michael Dummett · Gareth Evans · Arthur Fine · Jerry Fodor · Ernest Gellner · John Gray · Susan Haack · R.M. Hare · Jaakko Hintikka · Frank Jackson · Jaegwon Kim · Christine Korsgaard · Saul Kripke · Thomas Kuhn · Keith Lehrer · David Lewis · Bryan Magee · Ruth B. Marcus · John McDowell · Colin McGinn · Thomas Nagel · Robert Nozick · Martha Nussbaum · Alvin Plantinga · Karl Popper · Hilary Putnam · W.V.O. Quine · John Rawls · Peter Railton · Richard Rorty · Roger Scruton · Peter Singer · John Searle · J.J.C. Smart · Ernest Sosa · Charles Taylor · Bernard Williams · Timothy Williamson · Crispin Wright Continental European: Theodor W. Adorno · Louis Althusser · Giorgio Agamben · Hannah Arendt · Roland Barthes · Alain Badiou ·Jean Baudrillard · Maurice Blanchot · Simone de Beauvoir ·Pierre Bourdieu · Cornelius Castoriadis · Emil Cioran · Hélène Cixous · Guy Debord · Gilles Deleuze · Jacques Derrida · Michel Foucault · Hans-Georg Gadamer · Jürgen Habermas · Werner Hamacher · Martin Heidegger ·Max Horkheimer ·Edmund Husserl · Peter Janich · Julia Kristeva · Henri Lefebvre · Claude Lévi-Strauss · Emmanuel Lévinas · Jean-François Lyotard · Paul de Man · Herbert Marcuse · Jean-Luc Nancy · Antonio Negri · Paul Ricoeur · Jean Paul Sartre · Michel Serres · Ernst Tugendhat · Paul Virilio · Slavoj Žižek