Organism and Environment

Inheritance and Subjectivity in the Life Sciences

By (author) Russell Winslow

Publication date:

29 August 2017

Length of book:

246 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9781498552783

Organism and Environment performs an examination into the way the contemporary life sciences are heralding a revolution of the most basic philosophical concepts of the Western world. Analyzing recent research in microbiology and evolution theory, the present book argues that these discourses are adding their voices to a growing chorus which is announcing a disruption, if not an end, to the understanding of the order of the world articulated in humanism. What does it mean to be a living substance? Are there such things as living individuals? How are living beings free? The discourses of microbiology, the medical sciences and evolution theory are revealing a living organism that escapes the limited frame that Enlightenment humanism has traditionally used to answer these (and other) ontological questions. Appealing to the theoretical lenses provided by Michel Foucault, Hans Georg Gadamer and Gilles Deleuze, Organism and Environment offers an interpretation of the way the contemporary life sciences are giving articulation to a posthuman ontological order.
Organism and Environment can best be described as a philosophical interpretation of recent developments in the life sciences. Using insights from postmodern philosophers, especially Gadamer, Winslow (philosophy, St, John's College) highlights the ontological prejudices behind discourses in evolutionary biology. He uncovers a particular assumption, that of the autonomous, individually existing subject at the heart of the familiar theory of adaptation by (vertical) genetic inheritance from parent to offspring. This "humanist" prejudice, or, to use Heidegger's term, "metaphysics of presence," is now giving way to an ecological ontology consisting of horizontal modes of genetic inheritance that render the humanist individual no longer feasible. This book is useful as an insightful application of hermeneutics, but it will also help those in the philosophy of biology reflect further on developments in their field…. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.