La technique et le vivant en biologie de synthèse : réflexion sur l'actualité de Georges Canguilhem

Authors: Pelletier, Guillaume
Advisor: Parizeau, Marie-Hélène
Abstract: Synthetic biology is often depicted as the application of engineering principles in the life sciences. Through practices such as standardisation and modeling, promoters of this relatively young discipline hope to overcome difficulties related to the complexity of living organisms, in order to make the design of genetic network similar to that of electronic circuits. This kind of aspiration recently brought up philosophical questions concerning the relations between organism and machine, as well as the scope of our technical mastery of life. The thought of French philosopher Georges Canguilhem (1904-1995) seems especially relevant to these issues. According to Canguilhem, man-made devices presuppose the ability of living organisms to produce mechanisms, and requires us to consider the vital purpose and origin of technology. Without assuming the existence of a soul or a vital force, the origin of technology nevertheless forces us to acknowledge that the capacity of organisms to create norms is irreducible to the scientific analysis of living beings. After exploring the biological philosophy of Canguilhem, I will argue that synthetic biology, despite its main discourses and ambitions, frequently exploit the properties of life in a way that actualizes some of Canguilhem’s perspectives regarding life and technology.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2018
Open Access Date: 8 June 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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