Article ID: CBB000770746

Naturalising Purpose: From Comparative Anatomy to the “Adventure of Reason” (2006)


Huneman, Philippe (Author)

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Volume: 37
Pages: 649--674

Publication Date: 2006
Edition Details: Part of special issue: “Kantian Teleology and the Biological Sciences”
Language: English

Kant's analysis of the concept of natural purpose in the Critique of judgment captured several features of organisms that he argued warranted making them the objects of a special field of study, in need of a special regulative teleological principle. By showing that organisms have to be conceived as self-organizing wholes, epigenetically built according to the idea of a whole that we must presuppose, Kant accounted for three features of organisms conflated in the biological sciences of the period: adaptation, functionality and conservation of forms. Kant's unitary concept of natural purpose was subsequently split in two directions: first by Cuvier's comparative anatomy, that would draw on the idea of adaptative functions as a regulative principle for understanding in reconstituting and classifying organisms; and then by Goethe's and Geoffroy's morphology, a science of the general transformations of living forms. However, such general transformations in nature, objects of an alleged `archaeology of nature', were thought impossible by Kant in 80 of the Critique of judgment. Goethe made this `adventure of reason' possible by changing the sense of `explanation': scientific explanation was shifted from the investigation of the mechanical processes of generation of individual organisms to the unveiling of some ideal transformations of types instantiated by those organisms.

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Article Steigerwald, Joan (2006) Introduction. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (p. 621). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Schmitt, Stéphane
Goldstein, Amanda Jo
Butler, Judith
Largier, Niklaus
Francois, Anne-Lise
Le Guyader, Hervé
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Science in Context
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Scripta Nova. Revista Electrónica de Geografía y Ciencias Sociales
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
MIT Press
Emory University
University of California, Berkeley
de Gruyter
University of Chicago Press
Comparative anatomy
Kant, Immanuel
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
Cuvier, Georges
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Étienne
Linnaeus, Carolus
Shelley, Percy Bysshe
Great Britain
18th century
19th century
20th century
17th century
21st century
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris

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