Friday, February 20, 2015

The Scientific Rejection of Vitalism (continued):

[to return to the main document, click here, http://naturocrit.blogspot.com/]
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01. Schools:
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the Austin College Biology Department states:
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[in "HWC44 - Integrated Science Earth, Body, and Mind: Changes in Scientific Thought" -- Diggs, G.M. (? ?), Brock, K.G.(? ?) (2004)]
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*that "these different philosophical viewpoints [vitalism /supernaturalism and mechanism/naturalism] have radically different practical consequences”:
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a.
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with naturalism “[the]philosophical basis of science [...] science is based on the mechanistic or naturalistic viewpoint -- that all events of the universe can be described or explained by natural laws [i.e. actual, not sectarian natural law type...] scientists [...] do not resort to supernatural explanations [i.e. sectarian 'natural law'] -- rather they continue to look for natural explanations that can be tested, for which evidence can be obtained [...similarly] medical scientists have attempted to find natural causes for disease [as it is a branch of science...] the success of modern medicine is a potent reminder of the practical power of the mechanistic approach and the methodology used by science [because modern medicine is science-based]”;
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b.
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with “the vitalistic viewpoint (the doctrine of the supernatural) [...being] that the universe is controlled by supernatural powers called spirits, gods, or vital forces [...a premise] not supported by evidence, [that] cannot be tested, and is therefore outside the realm of science [...] those utilizing a vitalistic viewpoint have often attributed illness to such causes as curses, spells, divine retribution, sin, malignant influences, the will of god, or possession by evil spirits”;
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(click here for a & b,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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the Australian National University states:
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[in "Ecosystem Health Demystified"{Cullen, R. (? ?), Hearnshaw1, E.J.S. (? ?), Hughey, K.F.D.} (2005)]
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"'vitalism', the now defunct idea that a Platonic-like 'life force' is what inhabits life and nature, and which directs an ecosystem along some trajectory. However, it is important to re-enforce that self-organization is process developed internally within the system, and is not the product of an 'external engine' as vitalists would contend [p.013]";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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the College of DuPage states:
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[in "Vitalism and Mechanism" (2015)]
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[by way of Fancher, L.J. for her "Internet Biology 1100" course"]
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"the question of what it takes for something to be 'alive' is an old one [...] the predecessors of scientists thought they had this figured out [...that] living things are possessed of some factor which non-living things don't have [...] these 'natural philosophers' called it the vital spark, or the vital principle.The idea was that anything that was alive was possessed of one of these vital sparks, while things that weren't alive...weren't.  So what is a vital spark? [...] this isn't actually a very useful idea [...] obviously, this concept is a supernatural one, and we have already discussed the fact that modern scientists don't accept the supernatural as a reasonable explanation or answer. The concept of vitalism led to some lively debates among scientists of particularly the 19th century [...] a debate in chemistry over whether the organic chemicals which are produced by living things could be synthesized in the laboratory; the strict vitalist was sure that they couldn't [...] today's scientists do not believe in the existence of a vital spark";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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the College of the Holy Cross states:
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[in "Biology Department course Biology 131 - Introductory Biology" (2006)]
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[in "Science as a 'Way of Knowing:' The Place of Science" {Healy, W.R. (? ?), Prestwich, K.N. (? ?) -- Department of Biology, College of the Holy Cross}]
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"let me give a couple of examples here; some of this may be new to you. Take 'the mind' -- the sum of thoughts ideas and experiences of an individual. Three different views of it would be the scientific (which would seek to explain the main based on operation of cells and networks of cells), vitalism (which explains the mind as something attached to a non-material spirit) and a number of philosophies that would explain the mind as something that sits on top of the biological aspects (nerve and sensory cells) where the mind is more than just the function of these cells [p.001...] the basis of modern science is materialism [...] it springs from empiricism [...] when acting as a scientist we must use [...] materialism. To act otherwise is non-science [...] within science, there is no room for immaterial, unobservable phenomenon [...] to inject nonmaterial and nontestable explanations into science [...] a nonmaterialist such as a vitalist [p.005...] study questions: 1. What are rationalism, empiricism, and metaphysics? Why is a worldview based on metaphysics or vitalism or rationalism fundamentally non-scientific? Does that mean that these approaches have no use and should be discarded? 2. What are the relationships between empiricism, materialism and experiment? 3. Why must one reject non-materialistic explanations when acting as a scientist?[p.009]";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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[in "Biology Department course Biology 114 - Exercise Physiology" (2005)]
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a. [on science]
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“materialism: the philosophical position that observable phenomena are explainable in terms of natural laws. Natural laws are generalizations made from interpreting various observations, including experiment [not made-up wacko CAM sectarian natural law...] science requires a materialistic approach since its goal is prediction and understanding of natural phenomena based solely on what is observable”;
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b.[on vitalism]
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vitalism: the opposite of materialism. Vitalistic understandings of life imply that there is some unmeasurable, unobservable feature of organisms [...] call it spirit or whatever, it is a supernatural entity, [particularly] in the sense that it exists outside the laws of nature [...] any supernatural phenomena, being at its core unobservable, incomprehensible, and outside of natural law, cannot be scientifically tested. Vitalistic explanations [...] are outside of science and not the subject of science”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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the College of Wooster states:
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[in "Origin of Life - John Lindner, Fall 2007"; for a bio., click here,
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[for the course "Belief in God in an Age of Science"]
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"[per Lindner, J. (PhD{physics} CIT)] dualism, [per] soul is distinct from matter (Socrates) [...] life (mind, soul, spirit) can never fully be captured by science; belief in a life-force is vitalism. Emergent phenomenon: scientific, not vitalistic. Animate differs from inanimate not because it possesses an extra nonphysical vitalistic ingredient, but because of the way it is organized. Life emerges from matter when organization of matter exceeds a critical threshold";
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(click here,
(archived here,
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(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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Davidson College states:
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[per for the course Bio 111; for a course homepage., click here,
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[in "Prologue 1: Overview of The Biological Sciences" (2006)]
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"living beings do not possess a nonmaterial 'life force', but rather differ from nonliving beings simply in the way their matter is organized";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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Indiana University, School of Informatics and Cognitive Science Program, Complex Systems Group states:
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[in “i400/ i590 – Biologically Inspired Computing" -- Rocha, L.M. (? ?){homepage http://informatics.indiana.edu/rocha/i%2Dbic/}]
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a.

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[in "Lecture 1. What Is Life?”]
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“vitalism: life as a special, incommensurable quality; not a viable scientific explanation, because for science nothing is in principle incommensurable; pertains to metaphysics – if the agent of design of the special quality cannot be observed with physical means, then it is by definition beyond the scope of science as it cannot be tested [...] emergence does not imply vitalism or dualism. When we say that certain characteristics cannot be explained by physics alone, we mean that they must be explained by different models for each level — namely, an informational level of description”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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b.
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[in “1. What Is Life?”]
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“the definitions above fall into three main categories: (1) life as an organization distinct from inorganic matter (with an associated list of properties), (2) life as a certain kind of animated behavior, and (3) life as a special, incommensurable, quality---vitalism. Throughout this course we will see that all principles, and indeed all controversies, associated with the study of life fall into one of these categories or the differences between them. The third category has been discarded as a viable scientific explanation, because for science nothing is in principle incommensurable. The question of whether life is organized according to a special design, intelligent or mysterious, pertains to metaphysics. If the agent of design of the special quality cannot be observed with physical means, then it is by definition beyond the scope of science as it cannot be tested [...] metaphysical dispositions do not pertain to science”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
(also here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history o f this page, click here,
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McGill University Office for Science and Society states:
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[in "Naturopathic Debate Follow-Up: Some Answers to Your Questions" (2012)]
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"the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors describes homeopathic remedies as such: 'when carefully matched to the patient they are able to affect the body’s 'vital force' and to stimulate the body’s innate healing forces on both the physical and emotional levels, with few side effects.'  This is nothing but fantastic conjecture. The belief in some sort of supernatural 'life force' that does not subscribe to the laws of chemistry, physics or biology and yet governs health is troublesome.  Naturopaths commonly reference Hippocrates' doctrine of 'vis medicatrix naturae' (as if ancient 'wisdom' equaled 'evidence') to justify the healing powers of nature.  This is actually a misinterpretation of Hippocrates' view.  What the 'father of medicine' had in mind was a purging of Greek medicine of its belief that gods were responsible for health and illness.  Natural phenomena, not gods, were to be accountable, he maintained.  Although science long ago confined 'vitalism' to the dustbin, in naturopathic philosophy it lives on, unabated.  That’s because 'life force' is not a matter of science, but a matter of faith [...] implausible speculations about water having 'memory,' or about anatomically non-existent meridians or 'blocked energy channels' amount to no more than magical thinking and have no place in evidence-based science";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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[per Mayer, R.W. (PhD{psychology} OSU) for the course "Theoretical Backgrounds in Psychology [...] Fall, 2008"; 
for a bio. click here,http://online.sfsu.edu/~mayer/vita.htm]
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[in "Module 1 Germany and Helmholtz" (2017)]
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"a special creation and different from other animals, as Mueller and the vitalists believed, or a natural phenomenon and thereby molded by the common laws of nature, as Helmholtz and others proposed [...] Helmholtz and other students of Johannes Mueller at the University of Berlin respected the nineteenth century master of physiology. But in their eyes Mueller had one weakness -- he promoted the doctrine of vitalism. Mueller believed that there was some life giving principle, such as 'vitalism', to explain physiological factors [...] since the physical sciences had made remarkable progress on grounds that were metaphysically neutral, Mueller's students hoped that the new physiology could make similar progress. These students formed a group called the Physical Society, known later as the Helmholtz School of Medicine. They tried very hard to divorce physiology from vitalism and to reduce the principles of physiology to those of either physics or chemistry, i.e., to explain physiological phenomenon in physical-chemical terms. (The next step, of course, taken by later psychologists, was to reduce psychology to physiology by explaining mental phenomena in physiological terms). In fact, they vowed to explain physiological phenomenon only in 'physical-chemical' terms . It was this pledge, probably more than any other thing, which helped to bring about two important events -- the unity of science movement and the law of the conservation of energy.  The unity of science movement, a belief that all sciences have some generally common core, quickly gathered recruits who believed that one science could explain a second, and a second explain a third. This implied a logical link, a tight conceptual relationship, among all the sciences. Such a close interrelationship among the sciences, as assumed in the unity of science movement, does not demand or even suggest a determinism. The actual results, however, were different. The implication emerged that physical phenomena cause, create, or account for physiological or psychological events. A reductionism resulted where the explanation of phenomena in one field of science was 'reduced' to concepts in another field of science. Such a shift in concepts (e.g., increased water pressure is explained by an increased movement of molecules) as a way of explaining a phenomenon implied a causative agent or a determining factor. Thus, reductionism, one kind of determinism, arose to replace vitalism, another kind of determinism [...] Mueller believed in both specific energies and in [...] vitalism [...] which of the following would have opposed 'mentalism' and vitalism? [...] Helmholtz";
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(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://online.sfsu.edu/psych601/unit5/651.htm)
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[in "Module 2: Evolutionary Theory" (2008)]
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"the number of prominent vitalistic scientists gradually declined during the latter part of the nineteenth century. The last great vitalist, the physiologist Johannes Mueller and the evolutionist Herbert Spencer, could no longer hold out against their younger counterparts, Helmholtz and Darwin. Psychologists in the Helmholtz School of medicine turned to the models of physics and chemistry and relied only upon physical and chemical forces to explain biological phenomena. Transformation equations were being generated; energy changes from one kind to another was an empirical fact. Mechanical energy could be transformed into electrical energy and then into chemical energy. The interrelation among forms of energy is a major physiological explanation. The concept of force was challenged by the conservation of energy doctrine. Life force was unnecessary to explain animal functions";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville states:
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[in "Chapter 1: Introduction to Organic Chemistry" (2013)]
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"scientists believed (Berzelius, 1807) that organic chemicals found in nature contained a special 'vital force' that directed their natural synthesis, and therefore, it would be impossible to accomplish a laboratory synthesis of the chemicals [...] later in the century Frederich Wöhler (1828) discovered that urea, a natural component in urine, could be synthesized in the laboratory by heating ammonium cyanate [...which] meant that the natural 'vital force' was not required to synthesis organic compounds, and paved the way for many chemists to synthesize organic compounds [...] the discovery of a laboratory synthesis of urea by Frederich Wöhler (1828) showed that organic chemicals did not have to be prepared by the vital forces of nature but could also be prepared by humans, thus opening the way for the field of synthetic organic chemistry";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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State University of New York Orange states:
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[in "Vitalism" (2016)]
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"others, however feel that they must choose between natural processes and divine action.  Some have argued that a knowledge of natural mechanisms is not sufficient to understand the natural world—there is 'something else' that is involved in causation that science cannot study.  This 'something else' meant that no scientist will ever truly understand the causes of things without invoking religion.  There was a force, a 'vital force' which was required for the natural world to function that went beyond physics and chemistry and did not operate according to the laws of chance.  Some of those who held this view identified themselves as vitalists [...] for some, it seemed appropriate to discuss 'vital forces' even though they could not be defined precisely or studied scientifically [...] even once experiments into the phenomena of the body began, vitalists argued that they should stop since the 'vital principle' of the body could not be studied scientifically [...] while it is easy to refer to the operation of the soul in governing a living body in theory, it proved impossible for vitalists to describe in scientific terms [...] the basic principles of inheritance were discovered before cell differentiation and DNA regulation were understood.  Vitalists felt that these processes would never be understood scientifically [...] vitalism had opposed natural explanations of chemical and physical phenomena, the entire science of physiology (especially neurophysiology and cardiophysiology), and the germ theory of disease.  As these sciences advanced, vitalism fell into disrepute.  In the early 1900s, the vitalist opposition to natural processes involved in development, differentiation, and life itself were doomed by the rapidly developing understanding of inheritance and of the function of DNA.  By the early 1900s, vitalism itself was dying in all of its attempts to replace natural processes for supernatural ones, with one exception.  The tenets of vitalism still inspired opposition to evolution [...]";
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State University of New York Stony Brook states:
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[in "Profile of Eckard Wimmer" (2017)]
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"biochemistry arose out of the ashes of vitalism—the belief that chemicals in living systems are somehow distinct from the chemicals in inorganic systems, such as salt and rocks. That notion was shattered in 1828, when German chemist Friedrich Wöhler synthesized the organic compound urea from inorganic precursors";
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Tufts University's Wright Center for Science Education states:
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[in "Theories of Life's Origin" (2004)]
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“science is agnostic when it comes to God—not atheistic, as some people prefer to read that laden word wrongly—just agnostic. Aside from personal feelings or cultural persuasions, most professional scientists just don’t know what to make of a God or gods. We simply have no bone fide data on which to base a judgment. The belief that life suddenly arose by means of some vitalistic process is outside the realm of modern science. Today’s scientific method, which is a philosophy of approach based on reasoned logic bolstered by experimental and observational tests, cannot be used to study supernatural ideas for the origin of life. Accordingly, such ideas, unprovable even in principle, seem destined to remain beliefs forever, hence beyond the subject of science”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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ii.
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"basic forces [...] the electromagnetic force is another of Nature’s basic agents. Any particle having a net electric charge, like an atom’s electron and proton, exerts an electromagnetic force. This force acts as the cement for most ordinary materials, including virtually everything in our homes, such as tables, chairs, books, even the kitchen sink. Because the electromagnetic force also binds the atoms within all life forms, some [WHO?] biologists call it the 'life force'—which, unfortunately, leads some to think that life is governed by some special 'vitalism,' which is wrong";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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iii.
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"nothing 'extra' infuses the mind or consciousness, just as no vitalism or élan vital partakes of life";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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the University of Colorado states:
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[in "MCDB 1150-003: Biofundamentals Preface And Scientific Thinking" (2015)]
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"if vitalism had proven to be correct, it would have forced a major revision of chemistry and physics";
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(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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[in "Vitalism" (2015)]
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"vitalism, philosophy that living organisms are distinct from nonliving entities by possessing a 'vital force.' This vital force energizes living organisms in a nonphysical, nonchemical manner. Vitalism is an aspect of the philosophy of idealism, which claims that abstract, non-material forms or processes (ideas) precede and give rise to the material. Although vitalists do not deny the value of biochemical investigations of cells or organisms, they believe that such work can never lead to an understanding of the ultimate nature of life because, by definition, the vital force cannot be comprehended by studying chemical and physical phenomena. See also Dualism; Teleology.  Vitalism is distinguished from traditional religious views of the nature of life because vitalists do not necessarily attribute the vital force to a creator or supernatural being. Vitalism is also distinguished from organicism, or holism–the view that living organisms function as an interconnected whole–which, in contrast to vitalism, neither assumes a vital force nor claims that the properties of the whole organism cannot be understood by rational investigation [...] in the early 20th century, embryologist Hans Driesch was a leading exponent of vitalism. Driesch employed the concept of entelechy–that is, the concept that vital force accounts not only for the maintenance of life but also for its development–to explain, among other things, the process of embryonic differentiation. Today, few biologists give credence to vitalism in any of its forms";
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(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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[in "Diagnostic Question Clusters to Improve Student Reasoning and Understanding in General Biology Courses: Faculty Development Component" (2015)]
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"a refutation of the notion of vitalism";
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the University of Georgia, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Biological Sciences, Biology Department states:
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[in "Biology 1107 - Intro. Cell & Molec. Bio." -- Barstow, W. (PhD Purdue){homepage http://www.biosci.uga.edu/almanac/bio_1107/barstow/}]
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“[as excerpted from The Science of Biology, P.B. Weisz and R.N. Keogh, Fifth Edition, McGraw-Hill, Inc., N.Y.] mechanism versus vitalism [...] the philosophy of mechanism [...] officially marks the initial divergence of 'science' [per the Classical Period] from its supernatural heritage. In the mechanistic view of nature, the universe is governed by a set of natural laws, namely, the laws of physics and chemistry. The mechanistic philosophy holds that if all physical and chemical events in the universe can be accounted for, no other events will remain. Therefore, life, too, must be a result of physical and chemical processes only, and the course of life must be determined automatically by the physical and chemical occurrences within living matter [...] vitalism [...] maintains that the universe, and particularly living components, are controlled by supernatural powers. Such powers are held to guide the behavior of atoms, planets, stars, living things and indeed all components of the universe. Most religious philosophies are inherently vitalistic. Clearly, these differences between vitalism and mechanism point up a conceptual conflict between religion and science”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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University of Massachusetts Amherst states:
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[in "This is Biology: The Science of the Living World [by] Ernst Mayr" (2016)]
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"the problem here is that 'life' suggests some 'thing' - a substance or force - and for centuries philosophers and biologists have tried to identify this life substance or vital force, to no avail [...] by about 1920 vitalism seemed to be discredited. The physiologist J. S. Haldane (1931) stated quite rightly that 'biologists have almost unanimously abandoned vitalism as an acknowledged belief' [...] vitalism survived even longer in the writings of philosophers than in the writings of physicists. But so far as I know, there are no vitalists among the group of philosophers of biology who started publishing after 1965.  Nor do I know of a single reputable living biologist who still supports straightforward vitalism. The few late twentieth-century biologists who had vitalistic leanings (A. Hardy, S. Wright, A. Portmann) are no longer alive [...] vitalism was nothing but an impediment to the growth of biology [...] all of the vitalists' attempts to demonstrate the existence of a nonmaterial vital force ended in failure. Once physiological and developmental processes began to be explained in terms of physicochemical processes at the cellular and molecular level, these explanations left no unexplained residue that would require a vitalistic interpretation. Vitalism simply became superfluous [and othe excellent things I've quoted from elsewhere from this Mayr book]";
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(1997; ISBN 0-674-88469-8)
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the University of Miami, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology states:
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[in “BIL 255 - Cell and Molecular Biology [...]” -- Mallery, C. (PhD ?), Glaser, L. (PhD ?){homepage http://henge.bio.miami.edu/mallery/255/}]

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“consequences of cell theory. Vitalism vs. mechanicalism [...] no vital force [...] cell theory replaces vitalism... the mainstream scientific thought of the 17th century. Vitalism was a school of scientific thought that attempts to explain the nature of life as resulting from a vital force, 'a soul,' peculiar to living organisms and different from all other physical forces found outside living things. Mechanists believed that life is essentially a mechanical process, it can be be explained entirely by the workings of laws of physics and chemistry without a 'vital force' [...] 'there are no laws of chemistry or physics unique to the living condition'”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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the University of Pretoria [South Africa] states:
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[in "Methods of Science" (2003)]
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"the limitations of science. First, scientific method defines the domain of science: anything to which the scientific method can be applied, now or in the future, is or will be science; anything to which the method cannot be applied is not science. Second, the scientific method defines the aim and purpose of science: the objective of science is to make and to use theories. A third important implication is that science does not make value judgments or moral decisions, and a fourth implication is that it determines the philosophical foundation on which scientific pursuits must be based. Scientific Philosophy. In the course of history, two major answers have been proposed regarding the governing forces of the universe. These answers are incorporated in two systems of philosophy called vitalism and mechanism, respectively. Vitalism is the doctrine of the supernatural. Thus it is untestable by experiment and is therefore unusable as a scientific philosophy of nature. In the mechanistic view, the prime mover of the universe is a set of natural laws, that is, the laws of physics and chemistry. Mechanism is thus a philosophy which is usable in science. The form of argumentation that takes recourse to purposes and supernatural planning is generally called teleology. The scientifically useful alternative to teleology is causalism, a form of thought based on mechanistic philosophy. Causalism denies foreknowledge of terminal states, preordination, purposes, goals, and fixed fates. It holds instead that natural events take place step-wise, each one conditioned by and dependent on earlier ones. Events occur only as previous events permit them to occur, not as preordained goals or purposes make them occur";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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the University of Texas Arlington states:
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[in "A Prize-Winning Discovery of 1896: Buchner Provides Evidence of Cell-Free Fermentation" (2017)]
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"the miracle of life could not be explained by the laws of physics or chemistry, because a vis vitalis was at work in the biological course of events, which would never be completely understood [...] this hypothesis of the vitalists might have dramatically inhibited the progress of research into the processes of life if it had not been possible to falsify it. The vitalists were totally convinced, for example, that only living yeast cells could produce the much sought-after alcohol from sugar, together with the carbon dioxide that escapes as bubbles. Separation of this process of fermentation from the living cells seemed impossible, and had indeed never been achieved. On the other hand the heretical idea existed that the 'vital forces' were no more than molecular forces, an idea that had been advocated by Buchner in his lectures on the chemistry of fermentation [...] the purely vitalist theory therefore remained the unconditional winner";
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the University of Utah, College of Humanities states:
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[in “Phil / Bio 2510 Genetics and Society: DNA, The Secret of Life” -- Benham, B. (PhD{philosophy} UNM) (2013)]
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“[per Davis, W. (PhD ?){homepage http://www.hum.utah.edu/~bbenham/Phil-Bio%202510%20Website/2510%20Syllabus%20Spring%2007.htm] vitalism is the idea that living organisms possess an inner force or energy that gives them the property of life [...] that there is a property that distinguishes life from non-life. That organic compounds possess a property that non-organic compounds do not [...] in Asia, the vital force is called qi, chi, or ki [...] in India, it is prana [...] some attacks on vitalism [include...] Wohler synthesizes urea [...] Buchner[s'] show fermentation can be accomplished in a cell free system [...] Mendel's genetic rules show that inheritance occurs in packets of information [...] Morgan wins the Nobel prize for demonstrating that chromosomes are the fundamental unit of inheritance [...] Avery, McCarty and McLead published a paper that stated 'deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) plays a central role' [etc....] Muller wins a Nobel prize for his work on the genetic effects of radiation [...therein] life has a physical basis [...] the chemical structure of DNA is yet another blow to vitalism”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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Wesleyan University states:
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[in “Science at Wesleyan 1831-1942 - Chemistry”{1967} (1999)]
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“one of the most important contributions of the calorimeter was a definite proof that the law of conservation of energy applied to living organisms as well as to inanimate matter. This was a decisive argument against the theory of vitalism. Vitalism was the doctrine that the function of a living organism was due to a vital principle or force distinct from physical forces. This impact of Atwater's work is discussed at some length by W. N. Rice in his Christian Faith in an Age of Science (1903) and is summarized in the following statement (page 139): ‘the average result of forty-five experiments, extending over periods amounting in the aggregate to one hundred and forty-three days, was that the energy determined as given off from the body did not differ by any measurable quantity from the calculated potential energy of the materials oxydized[sp.] in the body’”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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