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  1. How does randomness shape the living?

    How does randomness shape the living?

    Figuring Chance: Questions of Theory

    In biology, randomness is a critical notion to understand variations; however this notion is typically not conceptualized precisely. Here we provide some elements in that direction.


    Physics has several concepts of randomness that build on the idea that the possibilities are pre-given. By contrast, an increasing number of theoretical biologists attempt to introduce new possibilities, that is to say, changes of possibility space – an idea already discussed by Bergson and that was not genuinely pursued scientifically until recently (except, in a sense, in systematics, i.e, the method to classify living beings).
    Then, randomness operates at the level of possibilities themselves and is the basis of the historicity of biological objects. We emphasize that this concept of randomness is not only relevant when aiming to predict the future. Instead, it shapes biological organizations and ecosystems. As an illustration, we argue that a critical issue of the Anthropocene is the disruption of the biological organizations that natural history has shaped, leading to a collapse of biological possibilities.

    Montévil, Maël. n.d. “How Does Randomness Shape the Living?” In Figuring Chance: Questions of Theory, edited by Anne Duprat and others. Routledge
    Manuscript Citation Full text
  2. Modeling organogenesis from biological first principles

    The Qbio initiative at Institut Pasteur is organising a two-day symposium in Paris on December 12th and 13th 2022 which will cover the interplay between mechanics, evolution, morphogenesis and development. This symposium is meant to be an open platform for discussion between physicists, mathematicians and biologists on relevant biological questions, and to foster interactions between topics/systems which normally have few occasions to interact.

  3. Principles of Beginning

    • D Dwivedi
      D Dwivedi
      S Mohan
      S Mohan
      M Montévil
      M Montévil
    • en
    • 10h30-12h30, Salle des Actes, École Normale Supérieure

    The other beginning of philosophy arrives through a rethinking of the very meaning of beginning. The beginning in this case involves those philosophical works and intuitions from out of which one begins. The political and ethical questions arose from within and from outside of the philosophical archives of the past that are also demanding a new sense for "the history of philosophy. The deepest pre-conceptions of metaphysics which informs the sciences are being evaluated from out of the stasis in which several of the scientific pursuits find themselves today. For these reasons, the meaning of beginning is nothing simple.

  4. K as in "kaleidoscope"

    This webinar will be our eleventh meeting within the series of The Alphabet of Complexity webinars. The letter K (as in “kaleidoscope”) will guide us through the main questions of the day: What are the paradigms we live by? What are the implications of research which is genome-centred and how to compare it with the research based on the organism-oriented scientific paradigm? The lectures of three key speakers (Giuseppe Longo, Angelika Hilbeck, Maël Montévil) will be followed by a discussion on how these specific paradigms can inform our actions for the purity of seeds and against GMOs.

  5. Intersecting paths across mathematics, biology, and epistemology: A colloquium in honor of Giuseppe Longo and Ana Soto

    In this colloquium, we celebrate the 75th birthdays of Giuseppe Longo and Ana Soto. We have chosen to show their distinct trajectories and then how they intersect while working on the foundations of theoretical knowledge with a biology focus. In this respect, both Giuseppe Longo and Ana Soto maintain a close relationship with philosophy and philosophers. At the same time, both are also involved in “the life of the polis”, this is, addressing the repercussions of science in society and the environment, both as scientists and intellectuals.

  6. Disruption, care and knowledge

    Disruptions are described in both the cases of biological organizations and human health int he scientific literature, but without a precise conceptualization of this notion yet. We have argued that disruptions are the loss of past novelties that contribute to an organization (first order disruptions) or of the ability to generate such novelties (second order disruptions). We focus on a specific case of disruption, the disruption of babies and toddler cognitive and psychologicological developpement by digital media, and the response that was developped with Bernard Stiegler and experimented in Saint-Denis (France), namely contributive research where care puts knowledge at the forefront.

  7. Technology and Biology in the Anthropocene: Overcoming the Stasis

    Technology and sciences, notably biology, have entered a stasis whereby the nature of the answers provided are remarkably unchanging. For example, most of biological technoscientific research aims to fix problem by finding a molecule that would interact with an intended target. We argue that this stasis is the result of a decline in theoretical work, and notably a weak relationship with philosophy. Then theoretical shortcomings and contradiction are no longer overcome by renewed perspectives, instead outdated frameworks remain undead leading to inconsistent discourses. To overcome this stasis, we propose to introduce a bastardized epistemology, both in biology and technology, that would articulate both systemic and historical reasoning.

  8. Understanding living beings by analogy with computers or understanding computers as an emanation of the living

    Understanding living beings by analogy with computers or understanding computers as an emanation of the living

    Trópoς. Rivista di ermeneutica e critica filosofica

    A new look at theoretical computer sciences by changing perspective with a biological approach.


    The analogy between living beings and computers was introduced with circumspection by Schrödinger and has been widely propagated since, rarely with a precise technical meaning. Critics of this perspective are numerous. We emphasize that this perspective is mobilized to justify what may be called a regressive reductionism by comparison with physics or the Cartesian method.
    Other views on the living are possible, and we focus on an epistemological and theoretical framework where historicity is central, and the regularities susceptible to mathematization are constraints whose existence is fundamentally precarious and historically contingent.
    We then propose to reinterpret the computer, no longer as a Turing machine but as constituted by constraints. This move allows us to understand that computation in the sense of Church-Turing is only a part of the theoretical determination of what actually happens in a computer when considering them in their larger theoretical context where historicity is also central.

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