Biology

Alix Cohen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter discusses Kant’s account of biology, understood as the scientific study of a particular kind of beings, namely living beings. Section 1 defends the claim that their “special character” (KU 5: 369) consists in their unique capacity to self-organize. In section 2, I show that the problem they present for us, human beings, takes the form of an antinomy that opposes mechanical and teleological modes of explanation. After examining a number of interpretations of the antinomy, I turn to its resolution and question whether it is satisfactory. In the final section, I use Kant’s endorsement of epigenetic accounts of organic generation as an illustration of Kant’s view of the only legitimate use of teleology in biology. In conclusion, I suggest that many interpretative disagreements about Kant’s account ultimately come down to different conceptions of the analogy (or lack thereof) between organisms and artefacts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Kantian Mind
EditorsSorin Baiasu, Mark Timmons
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter37
Pages453-464
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781000903904, 9781003406617
ISBN (Print)9781138827486
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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