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Epistemological Implications of Synthetic Biology: A Heideggerian Perspective

Authors: Martin G. Weiss,

Publish Date: 2016
Volume: , Issue:, Pages: 325-335
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Taking as starting point the huge media-hype around C. Venter’s announcement of the creation of an artificial living cell in 2010, the chapter firstly explores the question if synthetic biology really amounts to playing God, given the different ways the Judeo-Christian tradition conceives the relation between man an nature, to move then on to the central question concerning the epistemological presupposition of synthetic biology, mainly that creating life equals understanding life. Based on M. Heidegger’s philosophy of technology it is shown that this constructivist paradigm is not only nothing new at all, but actually the culmination of traditional ontology, which from the beginning aimed at reification. The chapter finally asks if Bio-Art could turn synthetic biology against itself by a paradoxical intervention that uses the same tools of synthetic biology but with a complete different outcome. Whereas synthetic biology utilizes technology to reduce living cells to mere organic mechanism, Bio-Art uses the same technology to revitalize alleged mere bio-chemical machines by showing their intrinsic spontaneity.



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