Search  
Editor in chief
Keith R. Benson - Vancouver, Canada

Associate Editor
STAFFAN MUELLER-WILLE - Exeter, Exeter University

Advisory Board
Editorial Board

Book Review Editor
Massimiliano Maja - Naples, Italy

Managing Editor
Christiane Groeben - Naples, Italy
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 34, no. 3 (2012)
Article

Ute Deichmann, Origin of Life. The Role of Experiments, Basic Beliefs, and Social Authorities in the Controversies about the Spontaneous Generation of Life and the Subsequent Debates about Synthesizing Life in the Laboratory


Abstract

For centuries the question of the origin of life had focused on the question of the spontaneous generation of life, at least primitive forms of life, from inanimate matter, an idea that had been promoted most prominently by Aristotle. The widespread belief in spontaneous generation, which had been adopted by the Church, too, was finally abandoned at the beginning of the twentieth century, when the question of the origin of life became related to that of the artificial generation of life in the laboratory. This paper examines the role of social authorities, researchersí basic beliefs, crucial experiments, and scientific advance in the controversies about spontaneous generation from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries and analyzes the subsequent debates about the synthesis of artificial life in the changing scientific contexts of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. It shows that despite the importance of social authorities, basic beliefs, and crucial experiments scientific advances, especially those in microbiology, were the single most important factor in the stepwise abandoning of the doctrine of spontaneous generation. Research on the origin of life and the artificial synthesis of life became scientifically addressed only when it got rid of the idea of constant smooth transitions between inanimate matter and life and explored possible chemical and physical mechanisms of the specificity of basic molecules and processes of life.


Keywords

Spontaneous generation, artificial synthesis of life, preconceived ideas, specificity of life processes, Pasteur, Loeb


please login to download article
Back to Contents >>
Back to Home >>
username:
password:
 
  register

lost your password ?

For Subscription Information - Click Here
Publications :
Vol. 35, no. 4 (2013)
Vol. 35, no. 3 (2013)
Vol. 35, no. 2 (2013)
Vol. 35, no. 1 (2013)
Vol. 34, no. 4 (2012)
Vol. 34, no. 3 (2012)
Vol. 34, no. 1-2 (2012)
Vol. 33, no. 4 (2011)
Vol. 33, no. 3 (2011)
Vol. 33, no. 2 (2011)
Vol. 33, no. 1 (2011)
Vol. 32, no. 4 (2010)
Vol. 32, no. 2-3 (2010)
Vol. 32, no. 1 (2010)
Vol. 31, no. 3-4 (2009)
Vol. 31, no. 2 (2009)
Vol. 31, no. 1 (2009)
Vol. 30, no. 3-4 (2008)
Vol. 30, no. 2 (2008)
Vol. 30, no. 1 (2008)
Vol. 29, no. 4 (2007)
Vol. 29, no. 3 (2007)
Vol. 29, no. 2 (2007)
Vol. 29, no. 1 (2007)
Vol. 28, no. 4 (2006)
Vol. 28, no. 3 (2006)
Vol. 28, no. 2 (2006)
Vol. 28, no. 1 (2006)
Vol. 27, no. 3-4 (2005)
Vol. 27, no. 2 (2005)
Vol. 27, no. 1 (2005)