This book demonstrates how and why vitalism—the idea that life cannot be explained by the principles of mechanism—matters now. Vitalism resists closure and reductionism in the life sciences while simultaneously addressing the object of life itself. The aim of this collection is to consider the questions that vitalism makes it possible to ask: questions about the role and status of life across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities and questions about contingency, indeterminacy, relationality and change. All have special importance now, as the concepts of complexity, artificial life and artificial intelligence, information theory, and cybernetics become increasingly significant in more and more fields of activity.

Metamorphoses: The Myth of Evolutionary Possibility

Metamorphoses: The myth of evolutionary possibility
SarahKember

Introduction

Within a broad cultural context involving the convergence of the biological and the technological, one key feature has been the resurgence of Darwinism. Where the particular characteristics of this Darwinism have been vigorously contested (see, for example, Brown, 1999 and Rose and Rose, 2000),1 a tacit belief in evolution per se (Midgley, 2002) has been at the root of key developments across the boundary of art and science. This article challenges the belief in evolution which has increasingly erased the boundaries between art and science in the particular contexts of artificial life and transgenic engineering. Here, more than elsewhere, there is an almost overwhelming sense of evolutionary possibility, and here more than elsewhere the ...

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