IAS-IHPST Workshop: Boundaries and Levels of Biological Organization (1-2 July 2014)

for more information see: http://ias-ihpst.ias-research.net/





The IAS-Research Centre for Life Mind and Society of the University of the Basque Country (EHU/UPV) in collaboration with the Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (IHPST) of the University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne École Normale Supérieure and CNRS will be hosting an international workshop in Philosophy of Biology.

The workshop will discuss the notion of biological organization from a systemic- perspective. In particular it will focus on its intrinsic hierarchical dimension, and on the role organization plays in the understanding of the transition from pre-biotic to minimal living systems and of more complex forms of biological, cognitive and ecological systems.


Dates: July 1-2 2014

Venue: Room B1 – Centro Carlos Santamaria, Universidad del Pais Vasco (EHU/UPV) Campus de Guipuzkoa

For more detailed information please contact the organisers Leonardo Bich  and Maël Montevil.

No registration and no fees are needed for attending the workshop. Access is free to everybody in the academic community interested in the topics of the workshop. If you intend to come, please send an email to leonardo[dot]bich[at]ehu[dot]es so that we can facilitate your entrance into the building.

Download the program

Download the abstracts



10:00 – 10:15 Opening
Session 1  
10:15 – 11.15 Hierarchical thinking in organicist and systems biologyJon UmerezIAS/Universidad del País Vasco
11:15 – 11:40 Coffee break and collaboration proposals
11:40 – 12:40 Levels, orders and boundaries: a look into the architecture of biological organizationMatteo MossioIHPST/Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
12:40 – 14:30 Lunch break
Session 2  
14:30 – 15:30 Protocellular autonomy: getting organized through the construction of open boundariesKepa Ruiz MirazoIAS/Universidad del País Vasco
15:30 – 15:40 Break
15:40 – 16:40 Heredity and organizationGaëlle Pontarotti, with commentaries by Francesca MerlinIHPST/Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
Session 3  
10:00 – 11:00 Teleology as a principle Nicole PerretENS Paris
11:00 – 11:40 Coffee break and collaboration proposals
11:40 – 12:40 Failed intentions, or why adaptive behavior is not sufficient for cognitionXabier BarandiaranIAS/Universidad del País Vasco
12:40 – 14:30 LunchBreak
Session 4  
14:30 – 15: 30 On the origin of autonomy: from chemical to biological organisationAlvaro MorenoIAS /Universidad del Pais Vasco
15.30 – 15: 40 Break
15.40 – 16 :40 Gaïa: what was it about? Sebastien DutreuilIHPST/Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
16: 40 – 16:50 Closing remarks



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  • "To say that a system is complex […] is to say that we can describe the same system in a variety of distinct ways […]. Therefore a system is simple to the extent that a single description suffices to account for our interaction with the system; it is complex to the extent that it fails to be true." (Robert Rosen, 1978)
  • “Complexity is not an intrinsic property of a system nor of a system description. Rather, it arises from the number of ways in which we are able to interact with the system. Thus, complexity is a function not only of the system’s interactive capabilities, but of our own”
    (Robert Rosen, 1985)

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