Item description for The Strategy of Life: Teleology and Mechanics in Nineteenth Century German Biology (Studies in the History of Modern Science) by T. Lenoir...
In the early nineteenth century, a group of German biologists led by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach and Karl Friedrich Kielmeyer initiated a search for laws of biological organization that would explain the phenomena of form and function and establish foundations for a unified theory of life. The tradition spawned by these efforts found its most important spokesman in Karl Ernst von Baer. Timothy Lenoir chronicles the hitherto unexplored achievements of the practitioners of this research tradition as they aimed to place functional morphology at the heart of a new science, which they called "biology."
Strongly influenced by Immanuel Kant, the biologists' approach combined a sophisticated teleology with mechanistic theories and sparked bitter controversies with the rival programs, mechanistic reductionism and Darwinism. Although temporarily eclipsed by these two approaches, the morphological tradition, Lenoir argues, was not vanquished in the field of scientific debate. It contributed to pathbreaking research in areas such as comparative anatomy, embryology, paleontology, and biogeography.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.58" Width: 6.58" Height: 0.99" Weight: 1.46 lbs.
Release Date Sep 30, 1982
ISBN 9027713634 ISBN13 9789027713636
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Strategy of Life: Teleology and Mechanics in Nineteenth Century German Biology (Studies in the History of Modern Science)?
Regarding Science-Ejected Vitalism: Jan 13, 2008
Vitalism is a hugely science-ejected concept, though many CAM or 'natural health' cabals claim that vitalism survives scientific scrutiny.
A favorite quote from this book:
"the principle achievement of biologists in the early nineteenth century appears to be this: turning away from broad speculation and importing the methods of physics and chemistry along with a massive infusion of experimental technique and technology, they succeeded in preparing the ground for a comprehensive theory of life by eliminating the main conceptual stumbling blocks to genuine scientific advance in biology; namely, vitalism and teleological thinking [p.002]."
The forgotten legacy of the teleomechanists Apr 15, 2005
This is a very important work in the history of biology, more or less ignored in the current paradigm trance, and it is good to see it in paperback. If you are baffled by the current design debate this book will show you how one resolution of the issues emerged at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The onset of Darwinism closes a veil on the generation prior to 1859, save for the direct line of those leading up to Darwin, in the standardized histories that are very selective. The rest is ignored or else dismissed as the wrong conceptions of (German Romantic) Nature Philosophy. But the real picture is more complex and this includes the truly significant and fascinating world of the teleomechanists, springing from the legacy of Kant and his great critiques, especially his third, where the intractable concepts of teleology in relation to causality and Newtonian physics are treated in a very profound way. Most students of modern science could not distinguish Hegel from Kant in any significant way, dismissed as idealists. This fails to see the place of Kant in the history of science, rather than philosphy. At a time when the design arguments of natural theology are being pressed on reductionist Darwinians this potentially far more sophisticated approach deserves a new hearing. The teleomechanists, due to Kant's influence did not allow themselves the pitfalls of the design propagandists. Lenoir's text properly balances the depth of Kant's thinking with the history of the research program this spawned and an appreciation for Darwin. The sudden reaction visible in figures such as Helmholtz, originally a member of this school, has set the tone, indeed the pseudo-antimetaphysical jargon, of the current world of science. One wonders at this battle of the schools of 1848, in the collapse of Hegelianism, Feuerbach, and the onset of Comtean positivism. The successes of this tide of reductionist research, among them those of the Darwinians, have blinded us to the limits correctly predicted by the teleomechanists, and now visible in the inexorable dialectic over natural selection. Lenoir covers the whole ground and concludes with the critique of Von Baer of Darwin's theory of natural selection in the 1870's. Nothing much changes here, and it is significant that Kant virtually prophesies the fate of Darwinism before it even came into existence. See also the commentary on the teleomechanists in The Cosmological Anthropic Principle, by Barrow and Tipler