Unformatted text preview: acceptance of Einstein’s revolutionary theory of space, time and gravity, Eddington believed firmly that living organisms possessed an unknown force above and beyondthose explained by biochemists and physiologists. One of the first to challenge the vitalists’ viewpoint was René Descartes (15961650) who proposed that animals were no more than ‘machines’. Descartes and other ‘mechanists’ believed that life could be explained fully by chemical and physical principles and properties alone. In 1859 Charles Darwin’s (1809
1882) published the ‘Origin of Species’ with its implication that man could no longer be considered unique: that there was a continuity between man and the animals.
Darwinists argued that vitalism should join other theories of the universe, erroneous philosophies. Darwinists maintained that there is no difference between a living and a dead organism, which could not be explained in terms of chemistry. Claude Bernard (181378) did not believe in ‘vitalism’ but neither did he agree fully with th...
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