Leben - Eine philosophische Untersuchung [Life. A philosophical investigation]

Contributions to Ethics and Biotechnology, Volume 3 (2007) - in German

Andreas Brenner considers the question “What is life?” from a philosophical perspective. To set the framework for a response, it is first shown why this question is so difficult to answer, and why the so‑called life sciences contribute little to its elucidation. In philosophy, by contrast, the question of life has been explored in depth from the earliest days. Twentieth-century biophilosophical theories revisit these positions in an original manner and, adopting a wide variety of approaches, reveal the reflexivity of life. The concept of life thus arrived at is tested against “artificial life” designs, i.e. computer science models and synthetic biology projects. It is examined whether and to what extent the concept of life is applicable in such cases. Finally, the study returns to the question of the reflexivity of living entities. On this view, recent scientific observations can be interpreted to the effect that life is articulated in the generation of meaning (signification). This conception is studied in biosemiotics.

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Last edition: 20.05.2021