Read e-book online Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?: How eighteenth-century science PDF

By Susannah Gibson

ISBN-10: 0198705131

ISBN-13: 9780198705130

Because the time of Aristotle, there have been a transparent divide among the 3 kingdoms of animal, vegetable, and mineral. yet by means of the eighteenth century, organic experiments, and the big variety of recent creatures coming to Europe from the world over, challenged those neat divisions. Abraham Trembley came across that freshwater polyps grew into entire contributors whilst reduce. This stunning discovery raised deep questions: was once it a plant or an animal? And this used to be now not the one conundrum. What of coral? used to be it a rock or a dwelling shape? Did crops have sexes, like animals? the limits seemed to blur. And what did all this say concerning the nature of existence itself? have been animals and vegetation soul-less, mechanical varieties, as Descartes urged? The debates raging throughout technology performed into many of the greatest and such a lot arguable problems with Enlightenment Europe. during this ebook, Susannah Gibson explains how a examine of pond slime may cause humans to question the lifestyles of the soul; statement of eggs can make a guy doubt that God had created the area; how the invention of the Venus fly-trap was once associated with the French Revolution; and the way interpretations of fossils may well swap our knowing of the Earth's heritage. utilizing rigorous historic learn, and a full of life and readable sort, this publication vividly captures the large matters of eighteenth-century technology. And the debates about the divisions of lifestyles didn't finish there; they proceed to have resonances in smooth biology.

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Through trial and error, he found out what kind of water and pondweed and worms they most like to share their jars with, and observed them for hours to find out their habits. From these observations, published first by the Académie des Sciences in Paris, and later as a book titled Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire d’un genre de polpes d’eau douce, came Trembley’s most famous finding—the finding that would shock Europe. It resulted from a simple experiment in which Trembley had cut a polyp in two and watched as each half regenerated itself into a perfect, fully functioning replica of the original.

Trembley, the son of a high-level politician in the Republic of Geneva, was educated at the prestigious Academy of Calvin before moving to Leiden to continue his studies at the university there. He had long shown a keen interest in the sciences and the natural world, and was quickly absorbed into the scientific circle of Leiden. Trembley left the university on being offered a position as tutor to the sons of Count William Bentinck at his estate at Sorgvliet, near The Hague, but continued his association with the scientific world of neighbouring Leiden.

Both had to be read if a scholar were to understand God’s world, and so the idea of ‘natural theology’ was born. Some of the earliest surviving Christian writings on animals come from the fourth-century  ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MINERAL? theologian and philosopher St Augustine of Hippo (–). Augustine believed that there was a complete separation between animals and humans. For him, there was a basic qualitative difference between a man and a beast. This was quite different from Aristotle’s view that although man had a unique rational soul, he shared many animal characteristics.

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Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?: How eighteenth-century science disrupted the natural order by Susannah Gibson


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