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Keywords:

  • biological organization;
  • Darwinian tradition;
  • emergence of life;
  • environmental fitness;
  • evolution;
  • natural selection;
  • non equilibrium thermodynamics;
  • teleology

Abstract. The recently suggested reformulation of Darwinian evolutionary theory, based on the thermodynamics of self-organizing processes, has strong philosophical implications. My claim is that the main philosophical merit of the thermodynamic approach, made especially clear in J.S. Wicken's work, is its insistence on the law-governed, continuous nature of evolution. I attempt to substantiate this claim following a historical analysis of beginning-of-the-century ideas on evolution and matter-life relationship, in particular, the fitness-of-the-environment-for-life theory of the Harvard physiologist L.J. Henderson. In addition, I point to an epistemological common ground underlying the studies of the “thermodynamics school” and other currently active research groups focusing on the emergence and evolution of biological organization.