Volume 25, December 2020
Contemporary Trends in the Philosophy of Life
An issue in philosophy of life is what in nature can and what cannot be explained by physics and chemistry. The mechanical theory is the same as the physico-chemical theory and the mechanical explanation of biological phenomena amounts to the recognition of such phenomena as falling under the laws of physics and chemistry. Hobhouse points out that a living body acts in some respects as a mechanism while in other respects it appears to act differently. But where does the difference lie? One difference seems to be that a living organism, when out of order, struggles back to order and normal functioning in a structured way that a machine appears to be incapable of. Haldane asserts that a living organism can grow from within and give rise to another system of the same sort out of a tiny special itself as it happens in reproduction and that such reproduction belongs to a class qualitatively different from that of mechanical operation. The qualitative difference between life and matter is also supported in Alexander’s doctrine of emergent evolution.