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  1. Metaphysics, Function and the Engineering of Life: The Problem of Vitalism.Charles T. Wolfe, Bohang Chen & Cécilia Bognon-Küss - 2018 - Kairos 20 (1):113-140.
    Vitalism was long viewed as the most grotesque view in biological theory: appeals to a mysterious life-force, Romantic insistence on the autonomy of life, or worse, a metaphysics of an entirely living universe. In the early twentieth century, attempts were made to present a revised, lighter version that was not weighted down by revisionary metaphysics: “organicism”. And mainstream philosophers of science criticized Driesch and Bergson’s “neovitalism” as a too-strong ontological commitment to the existence of certain entities or “forces”, over and (...)
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  • The First Brazilian Thesis of Evolution: Haeckel's Recapitulation Theory and Its Relations with the Idea of Progress.Ricardo Francisco Waizbort, Maurício Roberto Motta Pinto da Luz, Flavio Coelho Edler & Helio Ricardo da Silva - 2021 - Journal of the History of Biology 54 (3):447-481.
    The aim of this work is to present the thesis “On the Ontogenetic Evolution of the Human Embryo in its Relations with Phylogenesis,” by Affonso Regulo de Oliveira Fausto, published in Brazil in 1890. To our knowledge, it was one of the first Brazilian academic works focused specifically on evolution. It was also the first doctoral thesis that addressed the topic of recapitulation in order to analyze what was then called the progressive evolution of the human species in tandem with (...)
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  • Ateleological Propagation in Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants.Gregory Rupik - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (1):1-28.
    It was commonly accepted in Goethe’s time that plants were equipped both to propagate themselves and to play a certain role in the natural economy as a result of God’s beneficent and providential design. Goethe’s identification of sexual propagation as the “summit of nature” in The Metamorphosis of Plants might suggest that he, too, drew strongly from this theological-metaphysical tradition that had given rise to Christian Wolff’s science of teleology. Goethe, however, portrayed nature as inherently active and propagative, itself improvising (...)
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  • Schelling on Understanding Organisms.Anton Kabeshkin - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (6):1180-1201.
    In this paper, I attempt to reconstruct Schelling’s theory of organism, primarily as it is elaborated in the First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature and the Introduction to the Outline. First, I discuss the challenge that the properties of organisms presented to the dominant scientific viewpoint by the end of the eighteenth century. I present different responses to this challenge, including reductive materialism, metaphysical and heuristic vitalism, and the Kantian response, and I situate Schelling’s account of (...)
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  • The Kantian Account of Mechanical Explanation of Natural Ends in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Biology.Henk Jochemsen & Wim Beekman - 2022 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 44 (1):1-24.
    The rise of the mechanistic worldview in the seventeenth century had a major impact on views of biological generation. Many seventeenth century naturalists rejected the old animist thesis. However, the alternative view of gradual mechanistic formation in embryology didn’t convince either. How to articulate the peculiarity of life? Researchers in the seventeenth century proposed both “animist” and mechanistic theories of life. In the eighteenth century again a controversy in biology arose regarding the explanation of generation. Some adhered to the view (...)
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  • Kant’s Concept of Organism Revisited: A Framework for a Possible Synthesis Between Developmentalism and Adaptationism?Philippe Huneman - 2017 - The Monist 100 (3):373-390.
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  • Epigenesis by experience: Romantic empiricism and non-Kantian biology.Amanda Jo Goldstein - 2017 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (1):13.
    Reconstructions of Romantic-era life science in general, and epigenesis in particular, frequently take the Kantian logic of autotelic “self-organization” as their primary reference point. I argue in this essay that the Kantian conceptual rubric hinders our historical and theoretical understanding of epigenesis, Romantic and otherwise. Neither a neutral gloss on epigenesis, nor separable from the epistemological deflation of biological knowledge that has received intensive scrutiny in the history and philosophy of science, Kant’s heuristics of autonomous “self-organization” in the third Critique (...)
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  • Teleology and the Organism: Kant's Controversial Legacy for Contemporary Biology.Andrea Gambarotto & Auguste Nahas - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 93:47-56.
  • 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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  • Kant and Schelling on Blumenbach’s Formative Drive.Naomi Fisher - 2021 - Intellectual History Review 31 (3):391-409.
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  • Teleología y epigénesis: una aproximación a los organismos en la Crítica de la Facultad de Juzgar de Kant.Juan Felipe Guevara-Aristizabal & Xóchitl Arteaga-Villamil - 2014 - Metatheoria – Revista de Filosofía E Historia de la Ciencia 5:21--33.
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  • Teleomechanism Redux? The Conceptual Hybridity of Living Machines in Early Modern Natural Philosophy.Charles T. Wolfe - manuscript
    We have been accustomed at least since Kant and mainstream history of philosophy to distinguish between the ‘mechanical’ and the ‘teleological’; between a fully mechanistic, quantitative science of Nature exemplified by Newton and a teleological, qualitative approach to living beings ultimately expressed in the concept of ‘organism’ – a purposive entity, or at least an entity possessed of functions. The beauty of this distinction is that it seems to make intuitive sense and to map onto historical and conceptual constellations in (...)
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