'Organism' - Historical and Philosophical Issues
Guest editorial by: Mathias Gutmann, Eva M. Neumann-Held (both:
Universitaet Marburg, Institut fuer Philosophie, Germany) and Christoph
Rehmann-Sutter (Institut für Geschichte und Epistemologie der Medizin,
Universitaet Basel, Switzerland)
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We hereby like to announce the publication of a special issue of _Theory
in Biosciences_ (TIB, Urban & Fischer Verlag, ISSB 1431-7613) (Volume
119, 3-4, 2000) on the topic "Organism - Historical and Philosophical
Issues". This issue comprises seven articles, which explore historical,
theoretical, methodological and ethical aspects of the significance of
"the organism" for biological theories.
The collection of the presented papers goes back to an open workshop at
the last meeting of the ISHPSSB society at Oaxaca, Mexico (July 7 - 11,
1999). The idea for the workshop - and later for the publication of the
presentations in TIB - was born on grounds of the increasing awareness
that New Synthesis Darwinism is not sufficient to provide an
all-covering theoretical framework for the whole of "modern biology". In
contrast to Darwinism, developmental biology has traditionally demanded
to focus on an *organism-centered foundation* of biology.
However, it remains an open question whether there the emphasis on the
organism is due to specific aspects of the objects of research of
developmental biology - and thereby systematically contingent -, or
whether the focus on the organism points to general theoretical
requirements or even to its ontological reality. It seems obvious, for
example, that for the aim of developmental research the organism is a
necessary prerequisite. On the other hand, it is not clear whether the
same is true for other biological disciplines. Molecular biological
disciplines seem not to require any specific consideration of "the
organism" for their work (although they might need more comprehensive
frameworks than only a focus on biochemical or cell levels can supply).
In their approaches the organism is nothing but a phenotypic by-product
of molecular interactions.
Robert Perlman: "The Concept of the organism in Physiology"
Linda Van Speybroeck: "The Organism: A Crucial Genomic Context in
Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo, Arantza Etxeberria, Alvaro Moreno and Jesús IbáÁez:
"Organisms and their Place in Biology"
Charbel Niño E.-Hani and Claus Emmeche: "On some Theoretical Grounds for
an Organism-Centered Biology".
Mathias Gutmann and Eva M. Neumann-Held: "The Theory of Organism and the
Culturalist Foundation of Biology".
Fernando Moya: "Epistemology of Living Organisms in Aristotele's
Christoph Rehmann-Sutter: "Biological Organisms and the Ethics of the
The publishers of _Theory in Biosciences_ welcome explicitly any further
discussions, critical comments and articles on the topics, which are
planned to be published in one of the forthcoming issues. All articles
have to undergo standard review procedures and should be written in
English. For further information, see: