Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 3 (2017)

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Hans Driesch Re-Visited after a Century: On "Leib Und Seele – Eine Untersuchung Uber Das Psychophysiche Grundproblem"

Stefan Gruner


Approximately a century after the bio-philosopher Hans Driesch had published some of his most interesting books, which had been to some extent misunderstood and subsequently fallen to some extent into oblivion, the relevance of some of Driesch's ideas for our own time is, since recently, beginning to be rediscovered. This is, inter alia, because the philosophical triple-relation between the notions of 'mind', 'living body', and 'machine' is still not compellingly clarified by any of the various competing philosophical 'schools' until today, whereby the advent of the programmable computer as an entirely new type of 'machine' (which Driesch was not able to foresee during his own life-time) has made all the related problems even more complicated. Within this science-philosophical context, this review article revisits and briefly recapitulates some of Driesch's most 'salient' thoughts on the mind-body-problem, and additionally provides some bibliographic auxiliary materials which nowadays students of Driesch's ideas might (hopefully) find useful. The writing of this review was motivated by the desire to clarify some often-seen misunderstandings of Driesch's concept of 'soul' within his two-fold framework of 'vitalism plus phenomenology', as well as by the desire to reconnect our contemporary science-, mind-, nature- and computer-philosophical discourses with one of their most important historic sources.

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