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Activity Of Consciousness
Aim And Method Of Naturalism
Autonomy Of Spirit
Consciousness Of The Ego
Constructive Criticism
Contrast Between Darwinian And Post-darwinian Views
Creative Power Of Consciousness
Criticisms Of The Mechanistic Theory Of Life
Crities Of Darwinism
Darwinish In General
Darwinism And Teleology
Darwinism In The Strict Sense
De Vries's Mutation-theory
Differences Of Opinion As To The Factors In Evolution
Eimer's Orthogenesis
Evolution And New Beginnings
Feeling Individuality Genius And Mysticism
Freedom Of Spirit
Fundamental Principles Of Naturalism
Goethe's Attitude To Naturalism
Haeckel's Evolutionist Position
How All This Affects The Religious Outlook
How The Religious And The Naturalistic Outlooks Conflict
Individual Development
Intuitions Of Reality
Is There Ageing Of The Mind?
Lamarckism And Neo-lamarckism
Machnical Theories Criticism
Mind And Spirit The Human And The Animal Soul
Mystery : Dependence : Purpose
Natural Selection
Naturalistic Attacks On The Autonomy Of The Spiritual
No Parallelism
Other Instances Of Dissatisfaction With The Theory Of Descent
Pre-eminence Of Consciousness
Preyer's Position
Religion And The Theory Of Descent
Spontaneous Generation
Teleological And Scientific Interpretations Are Alike Necessary
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Space
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Time
The Antimony Of The Conditioned And The Unconditioned
The Characteristic Features Of Darwinism
The Conservation Of Matter And Energy
The Constructive Work Of Driesch
The Contingency Of The World
The Dependence Of The Order Of Nature
The Development Of Darwinism
The Ego
The Fundamental Answer
The Law Of The Conservation Of Energy
The Mechanics Of Development
The Mystery Of Existence Remains Unexplained
The Organic And The Inorganic
The Position Of Bunge And Other Physiologists
The Problema Continui
The Real World
The Recognition Of Purpose
The Religious Interpretation Of The World
The Spontaneous Activity Of The Organism
The Supremacy Of Mind
The Theory Of Descent
The True Naturalism
The Two Kinds Of Naturalism
The Unconscious
The Unity Of Consciousness
The Views Of Albrecht And Schneider
The Views Of Botanists Illustrated
The World And God
Theory Of Definite Variation
Theory Of Life
Various Forms Of Darwinism
Virchow's Caution
Virchow's Position
Weismann's Evolutionist Position
What Is Distinctive In The Naturalistic Outlook
What Is Distinctive In The Religious Outlook

Criticisms Of The Mechanistic Theory Of Life

The course of the mechanistic theory of life has been surprisingly similar
to that of its complement, the theory of the general evolution of the
organic world. The two great doctrines of the schools, Darwinism on the
one hand, the mechanical interpretation of life on the other, are both
tottering, not because of the criticism of outsiders, but of specialists
within the schools themselves. And the interest which religion has in this
is the same in both cases: the transcendental nature of things, the
mysterious depth of appearance, which these theories denied or obscured,
become again apparent. The incommensurableness and mystery of the world,
which are, perhaps, even more necessary to the very life of religion than
the right to regard it teleologically, reassert themselves afresh in the
all-too-comprehensible and mathematically-formulated world, and
re-establish themselves, notwithstanding obstinate and persistent attempts
to do away with them. This is perhaps to the advantage of both natural
science and religion: to the advantage of religion because it can with
difficulty co-exist with the universal dominance of the mathematical way
of looking at things; to the advantage of natural science because, in
giving up the one-sidedness of the purely quantitative outlook, it does
not give up its "foundations," its "right to exist," but only a petitio
principii and a prejudice that compelled it to exploit nature rather than
to explain it, and to prescribe its ways rather than to seek them out.

The reaction from the one-sided mechanical theories shows itself in many
different ways and degrees. It may, according to the individual
naturalist, affect the theory as a whole, or only certain parts of it, or
only particular lines. It starts with mere criticism and with objections,
which go no further than saying that "in the meantime" we are still far
from having reached a physico-chemical solution of the riddle of life; it
may ascend through all stages up to an absolute rejection of the theory as
an idiosyncrasy of the time which impedes the progress of investigation,
and as an uncritical prejudice of the schools. It may remain at the level
of mere protest, and content itself with demonstrating the insufficiency
of the mechanical explanation, without attempting to formulate any
independent theory for the domain of the vital; or it may construct a
specifically biological theory, claiming independence amid other
disciplines, and basing this claim on the autonomy of vital processes; or
it may widen out deliberately into metaphysical study and speculation.
Taken at all these levels it presents such a complete section of the trend
of modern ideas and problems that it would be an attractive study even
apart from the special interest which attaches to it from the point of
view of religious and idealistic conceptions of the universe.

Both Liebig and Johannes Mueller remained vitalists, notwithstanding the
discovery of the synthesis of urea and the increasing number of organic
compounds which were built up artificially by purely chemical methods. It
was only about the middle of the last century that the younger generation,
under the leadership, in Germany, of Du Bois-Reymond in particular, went
over decidedly to the mechanistic side, and carried the doctrines of the
school to ever fresh victories. But opposition was not lacking from the
outset, though it was restrained and cautious.

Next: Virchow's Caution

Previous: The Law Of The Conservation Of Energy

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