Eighteenth-century uses of vitalism in constructing the human sciences

In Denis Alexander & Ronald L. Numbers (eds.), Biology and Ideology From Descartes to Dawkins. University of Chicago Press (2010)
Abstract
In the period of the high and late Enlightenment, the human sciences were reformed based on ideas, methods, and assumptions drawn from the life sciences. The goal was to improve the human sciences by naturalizing them, injecting them with the spirit that animated the search for the principles of life in biology. Many Enlightenment thinkers took interest in the agenda set by a loose group of natural philosophers known as vitalists, which included Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, Paul Barthez, Charles Bonnet, Alexander von Humboldt, Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, and Toberg Olaf Bergman. These vitalists sought to reformulate the concept of matter and proposed theories that resurrected the Renaissance and classical biological ideas rejected by the mechanists. This chapter explores how biological vitalism was utilized by Enlightenment thinkers to formulate strikingly modern concepts of the human sciences, focusing on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and Johann Gottfried Herder's Ideen. In particular, it explores how Enlightenment vitalism inspired the two men's conception of a science of humanity, that is, their use of analogy, semiotics, and the epistemology that supported it.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2013
DOI 10.7208/chicago/9780226608426.003.0004
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,122
External links

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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Added to PP index
2009-09-15

Total downloads
3 ( #712,008 of 2,191,748 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #290,783 of 2,191,748 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature