Hans Jonas and the phenomenological continuity of life and mind

Mirko Prokop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper offers a novel interpretation of Hans Jonas’ analysis of metabolism, the centrepiece of Jonas’ philosophy of organism, in relation to recent controversies regarding the phenomenological dimension of life-mind continuity as understood within ‘autopoietic’ enactivism (AE). Jonas’ philosophy of organism chiefly inspired AE’s development of what we might call ‘the phenomenological life-mind continuity thesis’ (PLMCT), the claim that certain phenomenological features of human experience are central to a proper scientific understanding of both life and mind, and as such central features of all living organisms. After discussing the understanding of PLMCT within AE, and recent criticisms thereof, I develop a reading of Jonas’ analysis of metabolism, in light of previous commentators, which emphasizes its systematicity and transcendental flavour. The central thought is that, for Jonas, the attribution of certain phenomenological features is a necessary precondition for our understanding of the possibility of metabolism, rather than being derivable from metabolism itself. I argue that my interpretation strengthens Jonas’ contribution to AE’s justification for ascribing certain phenomenological features to life across the board. However, it also emphasises the need to complement Jonas’ analysis with an explanatory account of organic identity in order to vindicate these phenomenological ascriptions in a scientific context.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
VolumeFirst Online
Early online date8 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Nov 2022


  • Hans Jonas
  • Enactivism
  • Phenomenology
  • Philosophy of biology
  • Life-mind continuity


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