Juan Manuel Garrido

in On Time, Being, and Hunger

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239351
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823239399 | DOI:

Series: Forms of Living (FUP)


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This chapter begins the characterization of the traditional concept of life in Western thought. Both the ancient view (Aristotle) and the modern philosophical conceptualizations of the idea of life seem to characterize the phenomenon of life as the phenomenon of the difference between living matter and dead matter. Life is that which makes the living being show itself as not being dead matter. Life is “in itself” the difference between life and death. Life is that which produces or introduces in the world such a difference. Life is therefore not some self-subsistent principle or property that acts as the cause of living beings (the soul, God or the DNA), but the process itself of keeping death at bay (in nourishing, growing, reproducing, perceiving, desiring, imagining, moving, dying, and so forth). It is finally suggested that life-that is, the difference itself between life and death-can be characterized as the ontological self-production of the living beings.

Keywords: Life and death; living and dead matter; Aristotle; modern birth of biology; ontological production

Chapter.  4368 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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