Chapter ID: CBB228606575

Mysteries of Living Corpuscles: Atomism and the Origin of Life in Sennert, Gassendi and Kircher (2016)


This paper aims to spotlight some important, but neglected, aspects of early modern interactions between matter theories and the life sciences. It will trace the ways in which atomistic or corpuscular modes of reasoning were adopted to explain the origin of life. To that end this paper will examine three seventeenth-century natural philosophers: Daniel Sennert (1572–1637), Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655) and Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680). Through the analysis of their discussions on the minute constitutive parts of living beings (plants, animals and human beings) as living corpuscles, it will inquire into the exchange of ideas among those who advocated “non-mechanist” or “vitalistic” types of corpuscular philosophy (Here I am using the term “vitalistic” broadly construed as the currents that emphasized the role of the life principle or vital principle). This paper’s ultimate goal is to shed light on the role of bio-medical ideas in seventeenth-century natural philosophy.

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Book Benjamin Goldberg; Peter Distelzweig; Evan R. Ragland (2015) Early Modern Medicine and Natural Philosophy. unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Newman, William Royall
Michael, Emily
Lüthy, Christoph H.
Hirai, Hiro
Ziggelaar, August
Yamada, Toshihiro
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies
Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
Indiana University
Matter theory
Mechanism; mechanical philosophy
Natural philosophy
Philosophy of science
Sennert, Daniel
Gassendi, Pierre
Boyle, Robert
Steno, Nicolaus
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Kircher, Athanasius
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
Early modern
18th century
Great Britain
Accademia del Cimento, Florence

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