The Spontaneous Generation Controversy (1859-1880): British and German Reactions to the Problem of Abiogenesis [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of the History of Biology 5 (2):285 - 319 (1972)
The controversy over spontaneous generation and the theory of evolution was part of the broader issue of the nature of life. It was the vitalists, who had originally accepted the doctrine of heterogenesis, who now were forced to reject abiogenesis. Their commitment to the view that life was unique and autonomous was so strong that, once the link between evolution and the abiogenetic origin of life had been made, they were almost constrained to reject evolution. It is not surprising that one finds this extreme position among German scientists, for it was only in Germany that the strong connection had been made. In Britain, with its strong empirical tradition, the theory of evolution was never completely tied to the doctrine of abiogenesis.Many nonvitalistic biologists were equally committed to the view that there was a gradation between the living and the nonliving, and saw in the doctrine of evolution a vindication of these views. To many of this school, abiogenesis was an a priori necessity requiring no empirical proof. If they sought for any empirical justification for their views on abiogenesis, one feels that such proof was never of great importance to them. Many—particularly the Germans—regarded those who denied abiogenesis because of the lack of proof to be guilty of following an outdated methodology: “that modern scientists still put so uncommon value on the inductive proof of spontaneous generation, is the clearest indication that few place confidence in the first principle of the theory of knowledge.” To them an acceptance of abiogenesis was necessary “in order to understand nature according to the laws of causality.” 105
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Neeraja Sankaran (2012). How the Discovery of Ribozymes Cast RNA in the Roles of Both Chicken and Egg in Origin-of-Life Theories. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (4):741-750.
Hein van den Berg (2013). The Wolffian Roots of Kant's Teleology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):724-734.
Similar books and articles
John Farley (1972). The Spontaneous Generation Controversy (1700-1860): The Origin of Parasitic Worms. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 5 (1):95 - 125.
James Strick (1999). Darwinism and the Origin of Life: The Role of H. C. Bastian in the British Spontaneous Generation Debates, 1868-1873. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 32 (1):51 - 92.
Deborah Boyle (2006). Spontaneous and Sexual Generation in Conway's Principles. In Justin E. H. Smith (ed.), The Problem of Animal Generation in Early Modern Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.
A. B. Robertson (1972). Children, Teachers and Society: The Over-Pressure Controversy, 1880-1886. British Journal of Educational Studies 20 (3):315 - 323.
Michael Behnen (1990). The German “Nationalverein”. The Political Establishment of the German Bourgeoisie, 1859–1867. Philosophy and History 23 (1):83-84.
Monte Ransome Johnson (2012). The Medical Background of Aristotle's Theory of Nature and Spontaneity. Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy 27:105-152.
R. P. (2002). Boyle on Seminal Principles. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 33 (4):597-630.
Francesca Merlin (2010). Evolutionary Chance Mutation: A Defense of the Modern Synthesis' Consensus View. Philosophy and Theory in Biology 2 (20130604).
Ellen Clarke (2011). The Problem of Biological Individuality. Biological Theory 5 (4):312-325.
William J. Schmitt (1962). Spontaneous Generation And Creation. Thought 37 (2):269-287.
Henry Crabb Robinson (2010). Essays on Kant, Schelling, and German Aesthetics. Modern Humanities Research Association.
Archibald I. Anderson (1960). Milestones of Educational Progress: Horace Mann, 1796?1859; John Dewey, 1859?1952. Educational Theory 10 (1):1-8.
Bernard Lightman (2011). Periodicals and Controversy. Spontaneous Generations 5 (1):5-11.
Allan Gotthelf (1989). Teleology and Spontaneous Generation in Aristotle: A Discussion. Apeiron 22 (4):181 - 193.
Added to index2011-05-29
Total downloads8 ( #172,583 of 1,102,806 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #296,987 of 1,102,806 )
How can I increase my downloads?