Happy Holidays—Our $30 Gift Card just for you, and books ship free! Shop now>>

Life Concepts from Aristotle to Darwin

On Vegetable Souls

Authors: Mix, Lucas John

Free Preview
  • Presents a diachronic treatment of life-concepts running from Homer to the present
  • Traces the history of vegetable souls
  • Defends a Darwinian concept of vegetable souls as useful for modern biology
see more benefits

Buy this book

eBook $64.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-96047-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $84.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-96046-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $84.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-030-07139-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book traces the history of life-concepts, with a focus on the vegetable souls of Aristotle, investigating how they were interpreted and eventually replaced by evolutionary biology. Philosophers have long struggled with the relationship between physics, physiology, and psychology, asking questions of organization, purpose, and agency. For two millennia, the vegetable soul, nutrition, and reproduction were commonly used to understand basic life and connect it to “higher” animal and vegetable life. Cartesian dualism and mechanism destroyed this bridge and left biology without an organizing principle until Darwin. Modern biology parallels Aristotelian vegetable life-concepts, but remains incompatible with the animal, rational, subjective, and spiritual life-concepts that developed through the centuries. Recent discoveries call for a second look at Aristotle’s ideas – though not their medieval descendants. Life remains an active, chemical process whose cause, identity, and purpose is self-perpetuation.


About the authors

Lucas John Mix is an associate of the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, USA. He works at the intersection of biology, history, philosophy, and theology and has worked with NASA Astrobiology programs for the last 20 years on understanding the meaning and extent of life.

Reviews

“Life Concepts, Mix (Harvard) provides a comprehensive treatise of the soul, emphasizing nutritive or vegetable souls, from the concept's beginnings with Homer and pre-Socratic philosophers to significant development of the disparate views of Plato and Aristotle. … As a philosophical and theological work, Mix provides a meaningful and engaging account of a deep, enduring subject.” (Z. B. Johnson, Choice, Vol. 56 (8), April, 2019)​
“While ‘vegetable souls’ might sound like an oxymoron, the notion has had a long and venerable history in philosophy, theology, and science, depending, of course, on what is meant by the phrase.  With precision and a passion for inquiry, astrobiologist Lucas Mix sorts it all out historically, philosophically, and, yes, biologically.  From the pre-Socratics to Charles Darwin and current trends in evolutionary biology, Mix’s engaging survey invites the reader to ponder anew the ultimate mystery of life’s origin and purpose.” (William P. Brown, Columbia Theological Seminary, USA)

“Since ancient times, philosophers have attempted to understand what animated matter and distinguished the living from the non-living. For the Greeks, this principle of life was psyche, for the Romans anima, and in the Germanic languages soul. In his deeply learned book, Lucas Mix traces the more than two-thousand-year history of life concepts in philosophy, theology, and the emerging science of biology. In this history, concepts of mortal and material souls rub shoulders with immortal and immaterial souls, and a vegetable soul shares the human body with a rational soul. In the process, we are lead to question who we are and our connections with animal and vegetable life.” (David Haig, Harvard University, USA)

 “This an amazing tour de force, almost everything one would want to know about Western thought, from before Aristotle up to now as it bears on the still puzzling question: what is life? Much of philosophy and theology has been a debate about the meaning of “vegetable souls” (life) and modern biology, reductionist and mechanistic as it takes itself to be, still lacks a coherent answer. Mix’s book will be the definitive source from now on.” (W. Ford Doolittle, Dalhousie University, Canada)

Table of contents (20 chapters)

Table of contents (20 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $64.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-96047-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $84.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-96046-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $84.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-030-07139-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Loading...

Recommended for you

Loading...

Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Life Concepts from Aristotle to Darwin
Book Subtitle
On Vegetable Souls
Authors
Copyright
2018
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-96047-0
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-96047-0
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-96046-3
Softcover ISBN
978-3-030-07139-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VIII, 273
Topics