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Biological Individuality and Enkapsis: From Martin Heidenhain’s Synthesiology to the Völkisch National Community

Biological Individuality and Enkapsis: From Martin Heidenhain’s Synthesiology to the Völkisch National Community

Chapter:
(p.184) 7 Biological Individuality and Enkapsis: From Martin Heidenhain’s Synthesiology to the Völkisch National Community
Source:
Biological Individuality
Author(s):
Olivier Rieppel
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226446592.003.0008

Enkapsis shows biological individuality to be hierarchically structured, and to be grounded not in intrinsic essential properties, but in relational properties, most notably the property of descent, either ontogenetically, or phylogenetically, from divisible parts. During the first half of the 20th century the enkaptic hierarchy developed by the Tübigen anatomist Martin Heidenhain became the central concept capturing biological individuality from a holistic-organicist perspective in German biology. The paradigmatic example of an enkaptic hierarchy was the organism with the cells as its most fundamental divisible subunits. The cells combine to form organs, these to form organ systems, ultimately the organism itself which thus represents a nested hierarchy of complex wholes with emergent properties manifest at different levels of complexity. The concept of the enkaptic hierarchy was soon extrapolated to ecosystems, to the phylogenetic system, ultimately to the socio-political conception of the National Community of National Socialist Germany.

Keywords:   Martin Heidenhain, enkapsis, hierarchy, histology, ecology, phylogeny, biological individuality

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