1887

n Koers : Bulletin for Christian Scholarship = Koers : Bulletin vir Christelike Wetenskap - Organism versus mechanism : losing our grip on the distinction : original research

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Abstract

The distinction between organism and mechanism is often subtle or unclear and yet can prove to be fundamental to our understanding of the world. It has been tempting for many thinkers to seek to 'understand' all of reality through the lens of either the one or the other of these concepts rather than by giving both a place. This article sets out to argue that there is a substantial loss of understanding when either of these metaphors is absolutised to explain all causal processes and patterns in reality. Clarifying the distinction between the two may provide one more tool to grasp what is reductionist in many of the perspectives that have come to dominate public life and science today. This contention is tested on the quest for the design of self-replicating systems (i.e. synthetic organisms) in the nanotech industry. It is common that the concepts of organic functioning and mechanism are used imprecisely and in an overlapping way. This is also true of much scientific debate, especially in the fields of biology, micro-biology and nanoscience. This imprecise use signals a reductionist tendency both in the way that the organic is perceived and in terms of the distinctive nature of mechanisms.


Die onderskeid tussen organisme en meganisme is dikwels subtiel of onduidelik, maar nogtans kan hierdie verskil 'n groot invloed op ons verstaan van die wêreld hê. Dit was in die geskiedenis van die filosofie vir baie denkers verleidelik om die totale werklikheid deur die lens van slegs die een of die ander van hierdie metafore te probeer verstaan in plaas daarvan om albei hulle regmatige plek te gee. Hierdie artikel argumenteer dat daar 'n substansiële verlies aan begrip is as 'n mens slegs een van hierdie metafore verabsoluteer in 'n poging om alle oorsaak- en gevolgpatrone in die werklikheid te verklaar. 'n Duideliker onderskeid tussen hierdie twee konsepte kan waarskynlik 'n bydrae lewer om die reduksionistiese elemente in die hedendaagse denkwyses wat die wetenskap en die openbare lewe oorheers, te bepaal. Hierdie benadering word getoets aan 'n analise van die ontwikkelinge in die nanotegnologie waar gepoog word om sintetiese lewe en selfrepliserende sisteme te vervaardig. Dit kom algemeen voor dat die begrippe en onnoukeurig gebruik word en, tot 'n mate, soms selfs oorvleuelend. Dit geld ook vir 'n groot deel van die huidige wetenskaplike debatte, veral in die biologie, mikrobiologie en nanowetenskap dissiplines. Hierdie onnoukeurige woordgebruik maak dit duidelik dat daar 'n reduksie plaasvind beide in die onderskeid tussen wat as organiese en dit wat as spesifiek meganiese eienskappe beskou word.

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/content/koers/78/2/EJC146954
2013-01-01
2016-12-03
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