‘Teleology beyond Regrets: On the Role of Schelling’s Organicism in Treviranus’ Biology’ (by A. Gambarotto)

On the occasion of the release of the new volume of Verifiche. Rivista Trimestrale di Scienze Umane (2014, Vol. XLIII – N. 1-4), we are pleased to share a free downloadable version (PDF) of the article ‘Teleology beyond Regrets: On the Role of Schelling’s Organicism in Treviranus’ Biology’, by Andrea Gambarotto: A. Gambarotto, ‘Teleology beyond Regrets’, Verifiche (2014, Vol. XLIII – N. 1-4).

The new volume of Verifiche is conceived as a special issue, that tackles the notion of organism from a historical and conceptual point of view.

Below you can find the abstract of the paper:

In his seminal monograph on teleology and mechanics in nineteenth German biology Timothy Lenoir considers his study of the “Kantian” teleomechanistic tradition as an answer to those who wrongly believe that early nineteenth-century German biology was dominated by Schelling’s Naturphilosophie. My goal is to argue that this is an arbitrary assumption based on a historiographical bias and that Schelling’s organicism played a pivotal role in the formulation of a conceptual framework aimed at accounting for biological organization. The formalization of biology as an autonomous science at the beginning of the nineteenth century implied in fact the shift from a regulative to a constitutive understanding of teleology, a shift most strongly endorsed in Schelling’s Naturphilosophie. I first take into account two aspects that Treviranus draws directly from Schelling: the relationship between mechanism and teleology and the continuity between nature and spirit. I then show how Treviranus reinterprets the Schellingian framework with a peculiar emphasis on ecology, stressing the important interaction between organisms and environment. On this basis, I suggest that he was the first naturalist in the German speaking world to sketch the outline of a theory concerned with the historical transformation of living forms.


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