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Life as Autarchy: Deconstructing Bio-Theological Western Paradigm

Life as Autarchy: Deconstructing Bio-Theological Western Paradigm

Martín Grassi

Catholic University of Argentina (Universidad Católica Argentina), Philosophy Department and National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET)




How can life be defined? In this paper, I will stress the importance of self-sufficiency (or, more rigorously, “autarchy”) in defining what life is in Western thought. I will address philosophy, biology, and theology, by studying Aristotle’s natural philosophy, Thomas Aquinas’ theology, and Maturana and Varela’s biological theory of autopoiesis. Although self-sufficiency is quite revealing of what life is, I will argue that it does notdo justice to the relational essence of life, being my goal to open new perspectives on life by placing the prefix syn- over the prefix autós-. The philosophical task today seems to be to understand what relationality and community means, and I argue that for that end the “autarchy paradigm” should be challenged, understanding life (bíos) essentially as “life in common” (symbiosis).

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Science, Religion and Culture


Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82


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