Boris Demarest

Affiliation: 

Ghent University

The structure of developmental time: epistemology and metaphysics in the embryological theories of Harvey, Malebranche, and Buffon

This paper will argue that the differences between major embryological theories in the early modern life sciences are primarily due to major epistemological differences of opinion other than those on the acceptability of mechanical or vitalist explanation that are now commonly assumed to be the major issue at stake. To this end, it will show how the conflicting views of William Harvey, Nicolas Malebranche and Georges Buffon on explanation in embryology are largely due to their diverging views on the structure of time.