The Organism and its Umwelt: a Counterpoint between the Theories of Uexküll, Goldstein and Canguilhem
In: Jakob von Uexküll and Philosophy: Life, Environments, Anthropology. London: Routledge.
17 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2020 Last revised: 21 Oct 2020
Date Written: December 25, 2019
The topic of the relationship between the organism and its environment runs through the theories of Uexküll, Goldstein and Canguilhem with equal importance. In this work a counterpoint will be established between their theories, in the attempt to assess at which points the melodies are concordant and at which points they are discordant. As fundamental basis to his theory, Uexküll relies on the concept of conformity to a plan, which allows him to account for the congruity and perfect adjustment between organisms and their Umwelten. For Goldstein and Canguilhem, the relationship between an organism and its environment resembles instead a debate or coming to terms, in which the organism, as to ensure the continuity of the state of health, must constantly create norms to maintain a productive relationship with its environment. The pinpointing of these conceptual frameworks allows to lay emphasis on that each theory relies on specific assumptions regarding teleology and sense in organisms, as well as on specific definitions of the concept of life in general. Ultimately, the view that organisms and their environments have an original and common source, a principle, or plan, which must possess all the creative characteristics of life, will be seen as prevailing.
Keywords: Organism, Umwelt, Uexküll, Goldstein, Canguilhem, Life, Environment, Health, Normativity, Teleology
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