The claim that I am not alive, that I am purely mechanistic, is not one I am interested in entertaining. I know about the many philosophers and scientists have devoted their considerable minds and motivation to constructing edifices that argue that position, but people have built intellectual edifices in support of a great many things. Must I dedicate my life to fully mastering a particular line of thinking, just to be allowed to believe what the majority of the world now, and most all in human history have done? To me, vitalism is obviously true, and using a set of axioms to argue yourself into perspectives counter to all experience seems like an exhausting game.
Put more elegantly:
Vast realms of experience that had once been central to natural philosophy had become in principle invisible to the new inductive regime. It is possible to measure the discrete physical forces and interactions that compose organisms in terms of mass, momentum, exchanges of energy, and so forth; but life, if it is any kind of principle in addition to or beyond those forces and interactions, with a formal integrity irreducible to mere physical composites, exists on an entirely different ontological plane, inaccessible to those measurements. This also means, of course, that certain dimensions of reality, from the perspective of the new sciences, may have no discernible existence at all. So much of what we know about nature is determined by how we choose to interrogate it. Understanding is so often the ward of method, and every method begins from certain presuppositions about what we should ask and how we should ask it, and those presuppositions in turn determine what answers we can elicit, or even recognize as meaningful. And, of course, our method is inseparable from a metaphysics that we simply unwittingly presume, or presume with only partial awareness. In fact, our metaphysics is often nothing other than our method, mistaken for the truth it is supposed only to help us seek.David Bentley Hart, on his substack