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Buffon’s Natural History and the Founding of Organicism

Buffon’s Natural History and the Founding of Organicism

Chapter:
(p.35) Two Buffon’s Natural History and the Founding of Organicism
Source:
Kant’s Organicism
Author(s):
Jennifer Mensch
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226022031.003.0003

This chapter describes the continuum between the inorganic and organic realms, which ensured that the language of forces would be applied to organic bodies. This began with Stephen Hales’s mechanical view of plant physiology, a strain that would continue in Albrecht von Haller’s identification of the “sensible” and “irritable” forces at work in human physiology. In 1729, Leibniz’s disciple Louis Bourguet introduced the language of “organic mechanism” to distinguish the necessary interiority of organic growth from the kind of external accumulation at work in crystal formation, an account that Buffon would build upon with the addition of a “penetrating force” to guide the organic process.

Keywords:   forces, Stephen Hales, plant physiology, Albrecht von Haller, Louis Bourguet, organic mechanism

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