The theory of organism and the culturalist foundation of biology


After the disappearance of organism was diagnosed, the discussion about the role of a theory of organism in biology is characterised by a significant contradiction. On the one hand, the importance of a theory of organism is stated. Particularly developmental biology demands organism-centred approaches as a basis for conceptual integration. On the other hand, several modern biological disciplines such as genetics and molecular biology simply don’t need a theory of organism for their work. Consequently, the determination of the status of the organism and its relevance for biology at all is an unsolved problem.

In order to clarify the methodological status of the organism in biology we start with the reconstruction of three important propositions. A life oriented approach and a hierarchy concept – which both are from a neo-Darwinian origin – are confronted with a structuralist approach of organism, that can be characterised as a non-Darwinist approach.
Our own attempt for the solution of the organism problem applies the tools of culturalist methodology. In accordance to this pragmatic approach, the term organism is introduced as a concept of notion. A constructional morphological case study exemplifies the applicability of this concept. From the culturalist point of view a methodological foundation of biology can be achieved, that provides a consistent basis for a comprehensive integration of biological knowledge.

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