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Desire and Subcritical Life: An Attempted Rapprochement between Renaud Barbaras and Contemporary Systems Science

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Recent work by Renaud Barbaras on the definition of life has shown the fecundity of a phenomenological approach that sees absence as having a positive status. This phenomenon allows Barbaras to identify life with “desire,” the indefinite exploration of the exterior world. It also allows Barbaras to defeat competing definitions of life in the sciences, particularly biology. In this paper, I propose a mutual complementarity between the work of Barbaras and that in contemporary systems science, namely by Stuart Kauffman, suggesting that scientific concepts of subcriticality may allow for more overlap between phenomenological and scientific definitions of life than Barbaras acknowledges.


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Affiliations: 1: University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma


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