Science, Technology, and Human Responsibility

Issue #182            February 22, 2011
A Publication of The Nature Institute
Editor: Stephen L. Talbott (

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Editor's Note
What Do Organisms Mean? (Stephen L. Talbott)
      Overcoming the fear of vitalism; and is biology the most fundamental science?
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In This Issue

The series on molecular biology comes to a kind of culmination here (though not a completion!) as I try to show that certain centuries-old confusions can be cleared up in a straightforward way. In particular, I suggest that the accusation of "vitalism", all-too-often invited by those who try to acknowledge the living, dynamic character of organisms as creatures of meaning and intention, can be laid to rest once for all if only we understand the issues rightly. And at the end, I point out some things about the relation of biology to physics and chemistry that may startle you — with the sort of surprise, perhaps, that accompanies an unexpected recognition of the obvious. It's a long and rather intense piece, but without the technical challenges of some of the earlier essays. I hope you enjoy it.

From The Nature Institute

For those of you looking for an extraordinary intellectual adventure this summer, you might want to consider The Nature Institute's 2011 summer courses:

"Polarities in Nature and the Nature of Polarity", June 19 - 25. Learn more.

"Forming Living Ideas & the Significance of Experience-based Learning: A professional development course for science teachers" July 10 - July 16. Learn more.


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