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Philosophy Today


published on February 6, 2020

A. J. Nocek

Transcendental Biology

This essay shows how Conrad Hal Waddington is at the very center of divergent genealogies of theoretical biology: he is at once remembered for his contribution to epigenetics and complex systems biology (in its current formation) and largely forgotten for the debt that he owes to Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophy of organism. The essay traces Waddington's debt to Whitehead and demonstrates the way in which this conceptual lineage challenges the transcendental conditions of biological knowledge presupposed by the reigning paradigm of complex systems biology.