Epistemology of the Inert and Epistemology of the Living

  • Roberta Lanfredini Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy
  • Giuseppe Longo Centre Cavaillès, CNRS et Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France, and Department of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston U.S.A
Keywords: biology, memory, qualities


The intellectual act of imposing borders to contain and delimit objects has been a constituent factor in physics since its origins, and is also fundamental for philosophical reflection. However, the characteristics of the conceptual universe thus constructed (tendency towards the ideal limit, invariance in variation, a conception of matter as residue, etc.) seem inadequate in biology. The essential characteristic of the living thing is, in fact, that of having a history: that is, of being the concrete trace of a memory. Making an epistemology of the living thing (and not of the inert) means identifying new categories which, being radically antithetical to disembodied notions like that of program and information, take account of the unpredictability and creativity which time introduces. This essay aims to bring some of these fundamental categories into focus.

How to Cite
Lanfredini, R., & Longo, G. (2016). Epistemology of the Inert and Epistemology of the Living. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 9(31), 37-55. Retrieved from https://www.humanamente.eu/index.php/HM/article/view/43