Vitalism - at times contrasted to Reductionism

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KemoreJ
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11 Oct 2011, 2:03 am

From Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitalism

"This article is about the non-mechanist philosophy. For other uses, see vital (disambiguation).
Vitalism, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary,[1] is

1.a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from biochemical reactions
2.a doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining
Where vitalism explicitly invokes a vital principle, that element is often referred to as the "vital spark," "energy" or "élan vital", which some equate with the "soul".

Vitalism has a long history in medical philosophies: most traditional healing practices posited that disease results from some imbalance in the vital energies that distinguish living from non-living matter. In the Western tradition founded by Hippocrates, these vital forces were associated with the four temperaments and humours; Eastern traditions posited similar forces such as qi and prana. It is often contrasted to reductionism, the more mechanistic approach.

"The notion that bodily functions are due to a vitalistic principle existing in all living creatures has roots going back at least to ancient Egypt.[3] While vitalist ideas have been commonplace in traditional medicine,[4] attempts to construct workable scientific models date from the 17th century, when it was argued that matter existed in two radically different forms, observable by their behavior with regard to heat. These two forms of matter were termed organic and inorganic. Inorganic matter could be melted, but could also be restored to its former condition by removing the heat. Organic compounds "cooked" when heated, transforming into new forms that could not be restored to the original. It was argued that the essential difference between the two forms of matter was the "vital force", present only in organic material.

"Jöns Jakob Berzelius, one of the early 19th century "fathers" of modern chemistry, though he rejected mystical explanations of vitalism, nevertheless argued that a regulative force must exist within living matter to maintain its functions.

" Ernst Mayr, co-founder of the modern evolutionary synthesis and a critic of both vitalism and reductionism, writing in 2002 after the mathematical development of theories underlying emergent behavior, stated:

It would be ahistorical to ridicule vitalists. When one reads the writings of one of the leading vitalists like Driesch one is forced to agree with him that many of the basic problems of biology simply cannot be solved by a philosophy as that of Descartes, in which the organism is simply considered a machine... The logic of the critique of the vitalists was impeccable. But all their efforts to find a scientific answer to all the so-called vitalistic phenomena were failures... rejecting the philosophy of reductionism is not an attack on analysis. No complex system can be understood except through careful analysis. However the interactions of the components must be considered as much as the properties of the isolated components.

"In fact some of the greatest scientific minds of the time continued to investigate the possibility of vital properties. Louis Pasteur, shortly after his famous rebuttal of spontaneous generation, performed several experiments that he felt supported the vital concepts of life. According to Bechtel, Pasteur "fitted fermentation into a more general programme describing special reactions that only occur in living organisms. These are irreducibly vital phenomena." In 1858, Pasteur showed that fermentation only occurs when living cells are present and, that fermentation only occurs in the absence of oxygen; he was thus led to describe fermentation as ‘life without air’. Rejecting the claims of Berzelius, Liebig, Traube and others that fermentation resulted from chemical agents or catalysts within cells, he concluded that fermentation was a "vital action".

" Freud was a student of the notable anti-vitalist Hermann von Helmholtz, and initially struggled to express his concepts in strictly neurological terms. Abandoning this effort as fruitless, he became famous for his theory that behaviour is determined by an unconscious mind, of which the waking mind is unaware. In 1923, in The Ego and the Id, he developed the concept of "psychic energy" as the energy by which the work of the personality is performed.

Although Freud and Jung remain hugely influential, mainstream psychology has made a determined effort to rid itself of the most mystical of these concepts in an attempt to appear more like the hard sciences of chemistry and physics.[35] Although research within cognitive neuroscience has made substantial progress in explaining mental processes such as perception, memory and motivational states such as anger and fear,[36] larger concepts such as mind and intelligence, remain essentially higher level constructs, with observable neural correlates distributed throughout the brain".

Complementary and alternative medicine
While contemporary conventional medicine has distanced itself from the less reductionistic and more vitalistic approach of traditional medicine, some areas of complementary medicine continue to espouse various guises of vitalistic concepts and worldview. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) classifies CAM therapies into five categories or domains:

* Alternative medical systems, or complete systems of therapy and practice;
* Mind-body interventions, or techniques designed to facilitate the mind's effect on bodily functions and symptoms;
* Biologically based systems, including herbalism;
* Manipulative and body-based methods, such as chiropractic and massage therapy; and
* Energy therapy.

The therapies that continue to be most intimately associated with vitalism are bioenergetic medicines, in the category of energy therapies. This field may be further divided into bioelectromagnetic medicines (BEM) and biofield therapies (BT). Compared with bioenergetic medicines, biofield therapies have a stronger identity with vitalism. Examples of biofield therapies include therapeutic touch, Reiki, external qi, chakra healing and SHEN therapy. Biofield therapies are medical treatments in which the "subtle energy" field of a patient is manipulated by a biofield practitioner. The subtle energy is held to exist beyond the electromagnetic (EM) energy that is produced by the heart and brain. Beverly Rubik describes the biofield as a "complex, dynamic, extremely weak EM field within and around the human body..."

Acupuncture and chiropractic emphasize a holistic approach to the cause and treatment of disease (see main articles on these subjects). However, it should be noted that today many chiropractors no longer adhere to the concept of vitalism to explain the mechanisms at play, and are more mechanistic in their approach. More traditional or "straight" practitioners, however, adhere to a concept of "innate." For example, in a paper named "The Meanings of Innate", Joseph C. Keating, Jr. says that "Innate Intelligence" in chiropractic can be used to represent four concepts: a synonym for homeostasis, a label for a doctor's ignorance, a vitalistic explanation of health and disease, and a metaphysical premise for treatment.

The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, promoted an immaterial, vitalistic view of disease: "...they are solely spirit-like (dynamic) derangements of the spirit-like power (the vital principle) that animates the human body." As practised by some homeopaths today, homeopathy simply rests on the premise of treating sick persons with extremely diluted agents that – in undiluted doses – are deemed to produce similar symptoms in a healthy individual. Nevertheless, it remains equally true that the view of disease as a dynamic disturbance of the immaterial and dynamic vital force is taught in many homeopathic colleges and constitutes a fundamental principle for many contemporary practising homeopaths.

:D


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stanhope
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11 Oct 2011, 11:39 am

so.. you just copy paste texts from the web you haven't actually read yourself just because you think people should be aware of some arbitrary chosen stories? what's the point :?:



KemoreJ
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11 Oct 2011, 6:06 pm

Of course I read it. I did not copy the whole shebang. I read the whole thing and selected the most interesting bits. If I blindly copy and pasted the whole thing I would not have seen the names I wanted to highlight. :D


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hyperlexian
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11 Oct 2011, 7:50 pm

moved thread from General Autism Discussion to Politics, Philosophy, and Religion. if it doesn't quite fit, let me know if it needs to be moved elsewhere.


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KemoreJ
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11 Oct 2011, 8:09 pm

No worries That makes sense. Thanks. :D


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ruveyn
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11 Oct 2011, 8:10 pm

vitalism = totally bogus by any empirical standard.

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Last edited by ruveyn on 12 Oct 2011, 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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12 Oct 2011, 8:17 am

I have to agree with ruveyn. The reason why vitalism is rejected is really very much driven by successes of non-vitalist research efforts. I mean, this used to be widely believed, and it became increasingly displaced in every discipline by a non-vitalist understanding.



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12 Oct 2011, 6:55 pm

"Vitalism" has been renamed to "Capitalism". The Chicago School of Economics deified the change just as their association with the Nazi School of Thought became apparent as coming to an unpleasant end. The detour was immediately formated as "The Road To Serfdom", as propounded by the Great Friedrich August Hayek in the flip-flop of the flop-flip of 1933 and producing the "final fruit of the anti-liberal tendencies of Germany's National Socialism":
http://carrefoursagesse.wordpress.com/2 ... socialism/

Hence, Capitalism was very Liberal, but after it was pulled inside-out, Capitalism became very Conservative, and hijacked the very motives against it's former self of Liberal Capitalism.

To return any flame similar to the flame that was snuffed-out, Vitalism was instilled into the new Phoenix of Conservative Capitalism. "It is here that capitalism is identified with this curve or maze of dissipation for accumulation that links the conservative nature of the system to an emancipation which knows nothing of the human." "...which deviously reconciles vitalism with the disenchanting 'truth of extinction'." "The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism" edited by Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek, Graham Harman (2011), page 188. "Queer Times, Queer Becomings" By E. L. McCallum, Mikko Tuhkanen (2011), page 39.

Many scholars have taken notice of this philosophical Nazi victory in Neo-Conservative Capitalism. Books-dot-google lists many scholars noting this importation of Vitalism into Capitalism (search "capitalism as vitalism").

Tadzio