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The Life Sciences in Early Modern Philosophy$
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Ohad Nachtomy and Justin E. H. Smith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199987313

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199987313.001.0001

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Biology and Theology in Malebranche’s Theory of Organic Generation

Biology and Theology in Malebranche’s Theory of Organic Generation

(p.137) 8 Biology and Theology in Malebranche’s Theory of Organic Generation
The Life Sciences in Early Modern Philosophy

Karen Detlefsen

Oxford University Press

In this paper, I canvas several reasons – theological, other metaphysical, and scientific reasons – why early modern philosophers embraced the theory of generation by pre-existence. Investigating these motivations takes us to the heart of many interesting issues in early modern philosophy, including the status of teleology and problems in individuation. I further show that Malebranche draws on several forms of arguments in his embrace of the theory, and that his reasons underscore how alert he was to the unique phenomena of life, an alertness shared by many in his era – indeed, an alertness that requires we take seriously how philosophers thought about the life sciences in the early modern period.

Keywords:   Malebranche, Leibniz, Generation, Pre-existence, Individuation, Teleology, Biology

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