Organism, Self, Umwelt: A New Approach to Organismic Individuality


  • Spyridon A. Koutroufinis


Organism, Umwelt, Uexküll, Constraints, Mechanisms, Self, Kant


Organisms exhibit a specific form of biological individuality. In contemporary biosciences, explanations of organismic dynamics are often reduced to mechanistic descriptions. It is taken for granted that complex biological processes of different kinds are reducible to molecular and other “mechanisms”. In this paper, I show (1) that organisms express a form of individuality that is realized by a particular kind of causality and (2) that organismic causality transcends the logic of mechanisms used in contemporary biosciences. Based on new insights about organismic dynamics as well as Jakob von Uexküll’s concept of “Umwelt” (meaningful environment), I analyze organismic causality and show that the latter constitutes a form of selfhood alien to both inorganic nature and mechanisms.