Philosophy of Nature


a) Place the Philosophy of Nature in the general context of philosophical knowledge;
b) Identify and precisely describe the main questions dealt with by the Philosophy of Nature;
c) Know directly some of the historically most important texts in the Philosophy of Nature sphere;
d) Study the concepts of "nature" and "natural" and place them in the context of the concepts to which they are related as either complements or opposites;
e) Study important Philosophy of Nature issues.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Marta Maria Anjos Galego de Mendonça


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language





H. Bedau, C. Cleveland (Eds.). (2010). The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary perspectives from Philosophy of Science New York: Cambridge University Press.

Cleland, C. (2019), The Quest for a Universal Theory of Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

André Pichot, Histoire de la notion de vie. Paris: Gallimard, 1993.

Erwin Schrödinger (1993), What is Life? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Josef Seifert (1997), What is life? The Originality, Irreducibility and Value of Life. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Teaching method

Theoretical-practical classes; combine analysis and free debate of problems and their treatment in classic texts of philosophical literature.


Evaluation method

Método de avaliação - 1. Oral participation (10%), 2. One written test at the middle of the course (25%), 3. One written test at the end of the course (65%)

Subject matter

The nature of life - classic conceptions and contemporary readings

Life - its nature, its uniqueness, the processes and phenomena that define it, etc. - is a classic topic of Philosophy of Nature and remains one of the most enigmatic. What characterizes life as such? What phenomena follow necessarily from it? What processes are required to talk about life and living realities? The course focuses on these questions and addresses the main philosophical answers that were given to them. In the first part of the course, the classic conceptions of life will be characterized, confronting the reductionist and non-reductionist explanations of life and vital processes. In the second part, some philosophical questions raised by the new forms of artificial life and synthetic biology will be explored.


Programs where the course is taught: