Application of the Vitalistic and Mechanistic Philosophies to Biology

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With regards to vitalism and mechanism, there lacks a distinct boundary separating these two scientific philosophies. However, their implications and biases when slanted either particular way are significant enough to observe. Natural history has been the subject of great debate, scrutiny, and passion amongst many scientists from early on in biology to present times. Currently mechanism has risen to be the dominant theory in biology, but not without hardship and deep philosophical reasoning supported by empirical evidence. To understand these two philosophies, it’s imperative to establish a clear understanding of what each category represents. The mechanistic philosophy purports that life operates as mechanical process governed by the fundamental physical laws provided via the universe. This philosophy goes further in thought that there is not necessarily a designer or ultimate purpose for the execution of life in general. In contrast, vitalist philosophy claims that there is an innate specific quality and function that gives existence its ultimate characteristics. Folks in this line of thought tend to argue further that there is definite design and purpose living entities, implying the existence of a celestial super power or being that interacts making life what it is. A pronounced example of a naturalist who conceded with this line of thought was Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon. Referring to his paper “From the natural history of animals…” published in 1761, Buffon
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