Despite its radical importance in the development of organicism, embryology remains philosophically underexplored as a theoretical and empirical resource to clarify the nature of organisms. In my presentation García will discuss how developmental biology can help develop the organizational definition of the organism as a differentiated, functionally integrated, and autonomous system. She distinguishes two views of development that yield two different organicist conceptions of living beings. The life history view claims that organisms can be considered as such during their whole ontogeny; the constitutive view distinguishes two periods in life history, namely the period of generation and the period of self-maintenance of a constitutive organization. García will argue that the organizational criteria for the definition of organism (i.e., differentiation, functional integration, and autonomy) can be applied to the developmental system only when it has entered the period of self-maintenance of a constitutive organization. In the light of current research in developmental biology, she will show that it is possible to make explicit how organisms come to be as organisms. To this end, García explores key ontogenetic events in vertebrate development that help us clarify the core aspects of animal organization and allow us to identify the developmental stage (the fetal or the larval stage in the case of vertebrates) that marks the ontological transition between an organism in potency and an organism in actuality.
Laura Nuño de la Rosa García is currently a KLI fellow, writing up her PhD dissertation, "The Problem of Organismal Form in Contemporary Biology: A Philosophical Examination" supervised by Prof. José Luis González Recio (Complutense University, Madrid) and Prof. Jean Gayon (Paris 1-Sorbonne). After graduating in Humanities at the University of Alicante, she entered the doctoral program in Philosophy of Science at Complutense University, Madrid, where she defended her DEA thesis, “Philosophical History of the Idea of Organismal Form: From Aristotelian Hylemorphism to Cellular Microanatomy” in 2005. In 2010 she obtained a Masters Degree in Biophysics at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Her masters project on “The Origin of Paired Fins,” supervised by Prof. Gerd B. Müller and Dr. Brian Metscher, was carried out in the Department of Theoretical Biology, University of Vienna. Laura Nuño de la Rosa García received several grants for specialization abroad, spending time at the Institute of Philosophy, University of Havana, Cuba, at the Institut d'Histoire et de la Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (IHPST) in Paris, and at the KLI.