Application Of The Vitalistic And Mechanistic Philosophies To Biology

826 words - 4 pages

With regards to vitalism and mechanism, there lacks a distinct boundary separating these two scientific philosophies. However, their implications and biases when slanted either particular way are significant enough to observe. Natural history has been the subject of great debate, scrutiny, and passion amongst many scientists from early on in biology to present times. Currently mechanism has risen to be the dominant theory in biology, but not without hardship and deep philosophical reasoning supported by empirical evidence. To understand these two philosophies, it’s imperative to establish a clear understanding of what each category represents. The mechanistic philosophy purports that life ...view middle of the document...

Buffon believes that plants exists to be consumed by animals and for the actively participate with living interactions. Of course this is not limited to animals but also extends to plants possessing characteristics set by latitude and temperance for their particular grounds of growth. Another proponent of vitalism was Caspar Friedrich Wolff, his dissertation proposed the idea of epigenesis that conflicted preformation. Caspar used plant roots as an example for epigenesis. The idea is that plants are able to regenerate new tissue after being severed or damaged. This was subsequently controversial because it refuted the theory of preformation, which avowed that the physiology of organisms was fix formed at the embryotic level and developed off that platform. So contrary to this idea, epigenesis theory suggested the development of physiology transpired from embryonic layers by the vital movement of liquids. The circulation of liquid that an embryo propagated from was by vitalistic essential forces. The discoveries these researchers made were profound yet their vitalistic philosophies were confronted by the alternate philosophy of mechanism. Justus Von Liebig was the earliest proponent in applying mechanist approach to biochemistry. He believed material processes supported life, which is key to understanding how life works. He worked as an organic chemist and invented the N-based fertilizer in efforts to ultimately improve the quality life. Furthermore, his practices set the foundation of modern laboratory procedures. James Watson the Co-discoverer (with Crick) of DNA used the...

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