XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

Kant on Biology and the Experience of Life

Angela Breitenbach

Edificio: Facoltà di Agraria
Sala: sala Hume
Data: 23 maggio 2010 - 14:30
Ultima modifica: 12 aprile 2010


Recent advances in the life sciences raise important questions about our experience of life. If, as science suggests, there is in principle no difficulty in causally explaining and technically engineering the living world in the same way as we explain and engineer the non-living world, then what makes our experience of a blossoming tree so fundamentally different from that of a piece of woodwork? In this paper, I argue that Kant’s analogical conception of living nature provides an account of the special character of our experience of life that stands up to the challenge posed by modern biology. The crucial insight of Kant’s account is that our very experience of something as a living being is necessarily based on an analogy with human purposiveness. Even if all of nature could be explained in causal terms, analogical reflection about the living world would still be necessary in order to experience nature as alive.