Article ID: CBB288202564

De la règle de l’exception au principe de Bonnet: les principes épistémologiques des sciences de la vie à partir de 1740 (2017)


The paper investigates the epistemological reactions of the eighteenth century scholarly world to the regeneration of the polyp discovered by Abraham Trembley in the early 1740s. I coined one of these reactions the rule of the exception, adopted by Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur and the Reaumurians to illustrate the place and the impact of the new discovery. Réaumur signalled in 1742 the exceptions the polyp brought to the “general rules,” i.e. to the laws of life. There were exceptions to some laws, like mating, which characterised only some classes of organisms and not all beings. Later, during the 1760s, Charles Bonnet outlined several precepts that combined the heuristical power of the scholar to the diversity of models in nature. The paper unified those precepts, called Bonnet’s principle, and which, added to the rule of the exception, reorganised the epistemological space of life sciences, far from the traditional antagonism between preformation and epigenesis.

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Authors & Contributors
Dawson, Virginia Parker
Terrall, Mary
Grmek, Mirko Drazen
Cheung, Tobias
Blank, Andreas
Cohen, Alix A.
Science in Context
Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture
Archives of Natural History
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
American Philosophical Society
La Baconnière Arts
Wallstein Verlag
Voltaire Foundation
Case Western Reserve University
Edizioni ETS
Comparative physiology
Biogenesis; origin of life; spontaneous generation
Trembley, Abraham
Bonnet, Charles
Réaumur, René Antoine Ferchault de
Spallanzani, Lazzaro
Wolff, Caspar Friedrich
Zischka, Anton
Time Periods
18th century
17th century
16th century
19th century
Central Europe: Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Université de Montpellier

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