Chapter

Evolution vs. Epigenesis in Embryogenesis

in The Meaning of Evolution

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 1992 | ISBN: 9780226712024
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226712055 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226712055.003.0002
Evolution vs. Epigenesis in Embryogenesis

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According to epigeneis proposed by Aristotle, William Harvey, and a few other Italians, parts of animals are successfully generated out of fluid according to certain laws. However, “the theory of evolutions” proposed by Jan Swammerdam and Malpighi, holds that all the viscera, muscles, and remaining solid parts have already existed in the first beginnings of the invisible human embryo, and that they have at length successfully become apparent in those places where they have been slowly dilated by an influxing humor and became a visible mass. By the end of the eighteenth century, the embryological work of Wolf added Germanic experimental thoroughness and theoretical comprehensives to the rising tide of epigenetical studies. John Needham made microscopical observations of the spontaneous generation of infusoria and Georges Leclerc, Comte de Buffon supplied a complex epigenetic theory of embryological development. The older evolutionary theory thus succumbed to the new enthusiasm for independent disciplines and special formative principles.

Keywords: epigeneis; theory of evolutions; Jan Swammerdam; John Needham; epigenetic theory

Chapter.  3013 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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