The book begins by considering the problem of generation, focusing on the debate over the notion of “formative force.” Readers are invited to engage with the epistemological status of this formative force, i.e. the question of the principle behind organization. The second chapter provides a reconstruction of the physiology of vital forces as it was elaborated in the mid- to late-eighteenth century by the group of physicians and naturalists known as the “Göttingen School.” Readers are shown how these authors developed an understanding of the animal kingdom as a graded series of organisms with increasing functional complexity.
Chapter three tracks the development of such framework in Romantic Naturphilosophie. The author introduces the reader to the problem of classification, showing how Romantic philosophers of nature regarded classification as articulated by a unified plan that connects all living forms with one another, relying on the idea of living nature as a universal organism. In the closing chapter, this analysis shows how the three instances of pre-biological discourse on living beings – theory of generation, physiology and natural history – converged to form the consolidated disciplinary matrix of a general biology.
The book offers an insightful read for all scholars interested in classical German philosophy, especially those researching the philosophy of nature, as well as the history and philosophy of biology.
The book will primarily appeal to an academic audience, although it will also be of interest to general-interest science readers.
Bringing together an international group of historians of science and medicine, this book looks at the changing relationship between knowledge and community in the early modern period through case studies connecting Europe, Asia, the Ottoman Empire, and the Americas. It explores a landscape of understanding (and misunderstanding) nature through examinations of well-known intelligencers such as overseas missions, trading companies, and empires while incorporating more recent scholarship on the many less prominent go-betweens, such as translators and local experts, which made these networks of knowledge vibrant and truly global institutions.
Empires of Knowledgeis the perfect introduction to the global history of early modern science and medicine.