Lamarck's approach to an understanding of man Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/2j62s7837

Descriptions

Attribute NameValues
Creator
Abstract or Summary
  • Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) is considered here in the context of the Enlightenment effort to develop a science of man. His Philosophie zoologique (1809) and the Systeme analytique (1820) are the two principal relevant works examined in depth to discover how he meant to base a science of man on his biologie. A central problem to the formation of a science of man was to account scientific ally for the soul. The fate of the soul is investigated in this study not only to shed light on the meaning of Enlightenment but above all to understand that union of philosophe and naturaliste by which Lamarck characterized himself. Descartes' attempt to formulate a purely materialistic science of man, notwithstanding the classical split he made between body and soul, foreshadowed an important naturalistic current in the 18th century of which Lamarck was a brilliant exponent. Descartes' divine soul was dropped completely; consequently a most important role was given to a material soul, which, under the influence of Newton's physics, assimilated forces. The debate over the nature of this material soul involved such physiological issues as sensibility, irritability, and the production of feeling and thought from animal organization. Lamarck intended his evolutionary biology to supply a natural history of the soul, and to provide a convincing proof for the argument that the physique and the moral, "two orders of phenomena apparently so distinct," had a common basis of organization. Lamarck epitomized the evolution of life as a progressive interiorization of certain material forces or subtle fluids from the environment into, and correlative with a progressive elaboration of, animal organization. The chief subtle fluids involved were heat (or caloric) and electricity, and they acted like forces in causing the motions of the organs essential to life. In addition, these subtle fluids were apparently endowed with a vital soul although Lamarck does not explicitly admit it. In man, at least, the subtle fluids undoubtedly amount to an unconscious inner man or traditional soul. While an analysis of Lamarck's ideas enables one to characterize him as a vitalist--inspite of his professed mechanicism--it is necessary to study the intellectual climate of his day in order to understand the significance of that vitalism. In one way Lamarck's vitalism is a return to ancient Greek and Ionian ideas, a continuation of the Renaissance, which of course the Enlightenment was. Lamarck's vitalism was also a brilliant, even if not popular, solution to the problem of providing a scientific account of the natural origin of the soul. A successful solution would have been an invaluable victory for science, which was bidding against the Church for greater authority. In another way, Lamarck's vitalism points up the failure of mechanistic thinking in some central biological problems, for, as Diderot saw, mechanism itself gives rise at its limits to vitalism. If natural science would not adopt vitalist thinking, it would not adopt Lamarck's approach to understanding life and man; the problem of the soul would have to be quietly ignored, at least until experimental ap proaches had become more sophisticated. Into this vacuum moved such human sciences as psychology, and out of this ignorance rose a Romantic awareness.
Resource Type
Date Available
Date Copyright
Date Issued
Degree Level
Degree Name
Degree Field
Degree Grantor
Commencement Year
Advisor
Academic Affiliation
Non-Academic Affiliation
Subject
Rights Statement
Peer Reviewed
Language
Digitization Specifications
  • File scanned at 300 ppi (Monochrome) using ScandAll PRO 1.8.1 on a Fi-6770A in PDF format. CVista PdfCompressor 5.0 was used for pdf compression and textual OCR.
Replaces
Additional Information
  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Deborah Campbell(deborah.campbell@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-11-06T20:58:31Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 DobsonChristopher1979.pdf: 1566694 bytes, checksum: 50baa2ae970c1cca1df1499c2cfcf310 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Submitted by Georgeann Booth (gbscannerosu@gmail.com) on 2013-11-06T00:18:00Z No. of bitstreams: 1 DobsonChristopher1979.pdf: 1566694 bytes, checksum: 50baa2ae970c1cca1df1499c2cfcf310 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-11-06T17:04:40Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 DobsonChristopher1979.pdf: 1566694 bytes, checksum: 50baa2ae970c1cca1df1499c2cfcf310 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Made available in DSpace on 2013-11-06T20:58:31Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1 DobsonChristopher1979.pdf: 1566694 bytes, checksum: 50baa2ae970c1cca1df1499c2cfcf310 (MD5) Previous issue date: 1978-05-24

Relationships

Parents:

This work has no parents.

Last modified

Downloadable Content

Download PDF

Items