How Different Are Organisms from Inanimate Objects?


The conceptual schism in biology and medicine outlined at the end of Chapter 7 can be construed as the beginning of the ‘mechanism-vitalism’ debate, but that is simplistic and rather misleading. ‘Vitalism’ is a slippery notion at best, and a number of recent commentators have applied the word inappropriately, even to such work as Harvey's. The word ‘mechanism’, too, denotes several mutually incompatible variants of the Cartesian position. The following examples date from 1695 to 1747.


Scientific Revolution Inanimate Object Living Matter Vital Force Animal Spirit 
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