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Religion and the Philosophy of Life$
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Gavin Flood

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198836124

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198836124.001.0001

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The Theory and Philosophy of Life

The Theory and Philosophy of Life

(p.39) 1 The Theory and Philosophy of Life
Religion and the Philosophy of Life

Gavin Flood

Oxford University Press

The idea that there is an animating principle, a life force, that drives the living, that life itself comes to form through the manifold appearances of the world, is very ancient and can be found in Greece, China, and India. We also have more recent philosophical arguments that have understood life in terms of a vital principle or essence. Philosophies rooted in biology have tended to be sceptical of vitalist philosophies, while vitalist philosophies have rejected eliminative, materialist explanations. With reference to these concerns, the chapter examines the question of whether we are to understand life primarily in terms of human purposes, desires, fears, and hopes; or are we to explain life primarily in terms of impersonal, biological drives?

Keywords:   biology, philosophy, life force, vitalism, organism, reductionism

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