[Synapse elist] vitalism and vitality

Monika Bakke bakkemonika at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 4 07:34:28 CST 2008

Hi list members,
To begin with I would like to focus on one of the
points made by Oron, that is the idea of vitalism and
more precisely, a question what is significant about
contemporary vitalism? Why is this concept still
useful, if it is useful at all? 
I would suggest to adopt a point of view of Canguilhem
(well discussed in an excellent article: ‘On the
Vitality of Vitalism’, by Monica Greco), saying that
in respect to vitalist theories it is more important
what they do than what they actually say. 

The key thing is that they provide, in Greco’s words,
‘a form of resistance or antithesis to the recurrent
possibility of reduction, and to the temptation of
premature satisfaction’. In this critical spirit I
would add that the contemporary vitalist concepts have
a significant role to play in overcoming
anthropocentism as they convey the impersonal and
inhuman vitality of all biological life in order to
fully include augmented, modified, and technologically
supported life of all kinds in the world of our
symbiotic dependencies and responsibilities.

Yet, unlike Oron, I wouldn't talk about 'essence of
life' in any sense as i believe now we need to adopt
anti-essentialist vitality.


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