Phenomenology and artificial life: toward a technological supplementation of phenomenological methodology
The invention of the computer has revolutionized science. With respect to finding the essential structures of life, for example, it has enabled scientists not only to investigate empirical examples, but also to create and study novel hypothetical variations by means of simulation: ‘life as it could be’. We argue that this kind of research in the field of artificial life, namely the specification, implementation and evaluation of artificial systems, is akin to Husserl’s method of free imaginative variation as applied to the specific regional ontology of biology. Thus, at a time when the clarification of the essence of our biological embodiment is of growing interest for phenomenology, we suggest that artificial life should be seen as a method of externalizing some of the insurmountable complexity of imaginatively varying the phenomenon of life.