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On the role of Newtonian analogies in eighteenth-century life science:Vitalism and provisionally inexplicable explicative devices

In Zvi Biener & Eric Schliesser (eds.), Newton and Empiricism. Oxford University Press. pp. 223-261 (2014)

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  1. Models of Organic Organization in Montpellier Vitalism.Charles T. Wolfe - 2017 - Early Science and Medicine 22 (2-3):229-252.
    The species of vitalism discussed here is a malleable construct, often with a poisonous reputation (but one which I want to rehabilitate), hovering in between the realms of the philosophy of biology, the history of medicine, and the scientific background of the Radical Enlightenment (case in point, the influence of vitalist medicine on Diderot). This is a more vital vitalism, or at least a more ‘biologistic,’ ‘embodied,’ medicalized vitalism. I distinguish between what I would call ‘substantival’ and ‘functional’ forms of (...)
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  • A non-metaphysical evaluation of vitalism in the early twentieth century.Bohang Chen - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (3):50.
    In biology the term “vitalism” is usually associated with Hans Driesch’s doctrine of the entelechy: entelechies were nonmaterial, bio-specific agents responsible for governing a few peculiar biological phenomena. Since vitalism defined as such violates metaphysical materialism, the received view refutes the doctrine of the entelechy as a metaphysical heresy. But in the early twentieth century, a different, non-metaphysical evaluation of vitalism was endorsed by some biologists and philosophers, which finally led to a logical refutation of the doctrine of the entelechy. (...)
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  • Vitalism and the Resistance to Experimentation on Life in the Eighteenth Century.Charles T. Wolfe - 2013 - Journal of the History of Biology 46 (2):255-282.
    There is a familiar opposition between a ‘Scientific Revolution’ ethos and practice of experimentation, including experimentation on life, and a ‘vitalist’ reaction to this outlook. The former is often allied with different forms of mechanism – if all of Nature obeys mechanical laws, including living bodies, ‘iatromechanism’ should encounter no obstructions in investigating the particularities of animal-machines – or with more chimiatric theories of life and matter, as in the ‘Oxford Physiologists’. The latter reaction also comes in different, perhaps irreducibly (...)
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  • Scottish Common Sense, Association of Ideas and Free Will.Sebastiano Gino - 2020 - Intellectual History Review 30 (1):109-127.
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  • Diverging views of epigenesis: the Wolff–Blumenbach debate.Andrea Gambarotto - 2017 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 39 (2):12.
    Johann Friedrich Blumenbach is widely known as the father of German vitalism and his notion of Bildungstrieb, or nisus formativus, has been recognized as playing a key role in the debates about generation in German-speaking countries around 1800. On the other hand, Caspar Friedrich Wolff was the first to employ a vitalist notion, namely that of vis essentialis, in the explanatory framework of epigenetic development. Is there a difference between Wolff’s vis essentialis and Blumenbach’s nisus formativus? How does this difference (...)
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  • Vital Forces and Organization: Philosophy of Nature and Biology in Karl Friedrich Kielmeyer.Andrea Gambarotto - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:12-20.
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