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Kant’s OrganicismEpigenesis and the Development of Critical Philosophy$
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Jennifer Mensch

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226021980

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226022031.001.0001

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Kant’s Organicism

(p.1) Introduction
Kant’s Organicism

Jennifer Mensch

University of Chicago Press

This book is oriented by the conviction that Kant should be placed within a framework that has begun to take shape in a number of fields when it comes to thinking about the mid- to late eighteenth century, a framework that can be referred to as “organic thinking” or “organicism.” Organicism can be defined by its view of nature as something that cannot be reduced to a set of mechanical operations. The stage for organicism was historically set by investigations into the connected concerns of natural history and embryogenesis—investigations leading to inevitable conclusions regarding nature’s vitality and power. At this point, there are numerous accounts of “epigenesist poetry” and “epigenesist literature;” there are political theorists who speak of “Enlightenment vitalism,” and the utopian literature of the period is said to employ “the language of epigenesis” when describing the ideal society.

Keywords:   organic thinking, organicism, natural history, embryogenesis, epigenesist poetry, epigenesist literature, enlightenment vitalism

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