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Unformatted text preview: e ‘mechanists’. He believed that the hallmark of life was the presence of a‘definite idea’ which directed its development. The pioneering clinical chemist, Henry Bence Jones (1813­73) believed that the vital force played a minor role in living processes and that most, if not all, living processes would eventually be understood in terms of chemical and physical laws. Some adherents of vitalism attempted to minimize the significance of Wöhler’s discovery. For example, Johannes Müller (1801­58) argued that urea was not really an animal product after all, but was instead a product of excretion. Charles Gerhardt (1816­56) took a similar stance, arguing that “ . . . only the vital force operates to synthesize”. He maintained that urea was a decomposition product formed by purely chemical (non­vitalistic) forces and that this ‘decomposition’ was a type of in vivo combustion. In 1853, Claude Bernard discovered that In 1853, Claude Bernard discovered that glycogen was formed by the liver23. This contradicted yet another tenet of vitalism, i.e. that only plants could synthesize complex compounds which were subsequently con...
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