Causality, Natural Systems, and Hegel’s Organicism

Part of the Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism book series (PHGI)


Hegel’s holism or ‘organicism’ pertains to biology and to philosophy of biology, but how and why so remain obscure until basic features of Hegel’s epistemology and philosophy of nature are properly identified and integrated. These basic features Hegel identified and justified through his internal critique of Kant’s Critical philosophy, his consequent rejection of the late Mediaeval, deductivist ‘top-down’ model of a proper science (scientia) and his further development of conceptual explication to clarify, differentiate and also integrate concepts and principles fundamental (inter alia) to the natural sciences, so as to identify those conditions necessary and sufficient for any distinctive kind of natural phenomenon, and how those conditions are necessary to though insufficient for more complex kinds of natural phenomena. The specific constituents and their systematic structure and functioning (behavior) within any natural system must be identified and explained by empirical sciences. Hegel’s philosophical contribution is to show (inter alia) why and how the required concepts and principles are integrated and instantiated in ways which suffice for knowledge, understanding and explanation of natural phenomena, whilst foreclosing on conventionalism, scepticism or unwarranted transcendent metaphysical speculations. Hegel’s examination of causality and causal explanation highlight the centrality of causal processes, which involve causal powers, causal structures and causal activities, in ways congenial to organicism, to systems biology and to causal mechanisms within biological explanation.


Causal realism Causal process Causal law Causal structure Reduction Emergence Behavior of complex systems Organicism Non-reductive naturalism Biology Teleology Functionalism Forces of nature Cognitive reference Systems biology Newton Kant Galileo 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBoğaziçi ÜniversitesiIstanbulTurkey

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