Henri Atlan

Lectures in Biological and Cognitivist Philosophy Spinozist Configurations Publication date : April 25, 2018

Henri Atlan is a physician and biologist, director of research at the EHESS. He is the author of L’Organisation biologique et la Théorie de l’information; Entre le cristal et la fumée ; Les Étincelles de hasard [English-language edition The Sparks of Randomness – 2 volumes, Stanford University Press, 2010, 2013]; and Le Vivant post-génomique, all best-sellers.
This book was born out of a bold wager: shedding light on Spinoza through the neurosciences and neurobiology.

What is the living being? What is the connection between the body and the mind? A renowned physician and biologist, Henri Atlan shows that, unexpectedly, it is in a seventeenth-century philosopher that we can find the most relevant answers to these questions.

It would be false to say that Spinoza’s philosophy pursues the same goals as the neurosciences: that of reducing the activities of the mind to those of the brain. Henri Atlan is firm on this point: Spinoza’s philosophy is not materialism. And that is why it can help to understand what has remained a “mystery:” the emergence of cognitive functions, such as thought or reflection, within complex systems such as that of the human brain.

This examination of Spinoza’s Ethics is unprecedented and opens a profoundly new path, associating science and philosophy.