Authors
Benjamin Goldberg
University of Pittsburgh
Abstract
The generation of animals was a difficult phenomenon to explain in the seventeenth century, having long been a problem in natural philosophy, theology, and medicine. In this paper, I explore how generation, understood as epigenesis, was directly related to an idea of rational nature. I examine epigenesis—the idea that the embryo was constructed part-by-part, over time—in the work of two seemingly dissimilar English philosophers: William Harvey, an eclectic Aristotelian, and Margaret Cavendish, a radical materialist. I chart the ways that they understood and explained epigenesis, given their differences in philosophy and ontology. I argue for the importance of ideas of harmony and order in structuring their accounts of generation as a rational process. I link their experiences during the English Civil war to how they see nature as a possible source for the rationality and concord sorely missing in human affairs.
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DOI 10.1007/s40656-017-0134-5
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References found in this work BETA

Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life.Richard C. Jennings - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (3):403-410.
De anima. ARISTOTLE - 1956 - Journal of Hellenic Studies 83:183.
The Philosophical Innovations of Margaret Cavendish.Susan James - 1999 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 7 (2):219 – 244.
A Cambridge Platonist's Materialism: Henry More and the Concept of Soul.John Henry - 1986 - Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 49:172-195.

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Citations of this work BETA

Introduction: sketches of a conceptual history of epigenesis.Antonine Nicoglou & Charles T. Wolfe - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (4):64.
Margaret Cavendish on the Order and Infinitude of Nature.Michael Bennett McNulty - 2018 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (3):219-239.

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Debating Materialism: Cavendish, Hobbes, and More.Stewart Duncan - 2012 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (4):391-409.
Margaret Cavendish's Epistemology.Kourken Michaelian1 - 2009 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (1):31 – 53.

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