Chapter

Heredity and Materialism

in The Man Who Flattened the Earth

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780226793603
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226793627 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226793627.003.0010
Heredity and Materialism

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This chapter examines Maupertuis's excursions into the vexed questions of organization, life, and generation in the context of broader debates about natural history, experiment, and the relation of science to theology. Maupertuis joined the debate about generation, although he continued to keep his work on generation quite distinct from his academic contributions, as he had in Paris. At the peak of his institutional and social power in Berlin, and in spite of recurrent chronic illness, he kept up his position in the Republic of Letters by publishing strategically to maximize exposure and minimize risk of attack. The ultimate origin of matter and life remained mysterious, outside the domain of science. The philosopher could accept the Biblical account of creation and limit himself to describing the laws nature has followed since the initial divine fiat.

Keywords: heredity; generation; laws; nature; Berlin

Chapter.  18121 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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