Science in Context 21 (4):537-579 (2008)

Authors
Charles T. Wolfe
University of Venice
Abstract
Our aim in this paper is to bring to light the importance of the notion of économie animale in Montpellier vitalism, as a hybrid concept which brings together the structural and functional dimensions of the living body – dimensions which hitherto had primarily been studied according to a mechanistic model, or were discussed within the framework of Stahlian animism. The celebrated image of the bee-swarm expresses this structural-functional understanding of living bodies quite well: “One sees them press against each other, mutually supporting each other, forming a kind of whole, in which each living part, in its own way, by means of the correspondence and directions of its motions, enables this kind of life to be sustained in the body” (Encyclopédie, article “Observation,” by Ménuret de Chambaud). What is important here is that every component part is always a living part, i.e., every structural unit is always functional. Interestingly, while the twin notions of ‘animal economy’ and organisation are presented as improvements over a mechanistic perspective, they are nonetheless compatible with an expanded sense of mechanism and by extension, with materialism as reflected notably in the writings of Ménuret and Bordeu. We thus propose both a revision and reconstruction of the historical status of the ‘animal economy’, and a reflection on its conceptual status.
Keywords vitalism
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DOI 10.1017/s0269889708001956
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
Opticks.Isaac Newton - 1704 - Dover Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Do Organisms Have an Ontological Status?Charles T. Wolfe - 2010 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 32 (2-3):195-232.
From Substantival to Functional Vitalism and Beyond: Animas, Organisms and Attitudes.Charles T. Wolfe - 2011 - Eidos: Revista de Filosofía de la Universidad Del Norte 14:212-235.
Neither Metaphysical Dichotomy nor Pure Identity: Clarifying the Emergentist Creed.Olivier Sartenaer - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):365-373.
The Organism as Ontological Go-Between. Hybridity, Boundaries and Degrees of Reality in its Conceptual History.Charles T. Wolfe - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 1:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shps.

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From Substantival to Functional Vitalism and Beyond: Animas, Organisms and Attitudes.Charles T. Wolfe - 2011 - Eidos: Revista de Filosofía de la Universidad Del Norte 14:212-235.

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