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Vitalism? No Thanks! A throw-away thought: Despite being profoundly influenced by a variety of vitalistic philosophers– Deleuze, Bergson, Nietzsche, Whitehead, and so on –I confess that my skin literally crawls whenever I hear thinkers defend vitalism.

Vitalism? No Thanks!

What profound disappointment I experience when I hear a thinker I admire– Deleuze, Massumi, Braidotti, Bennett (?) , Whitehead, Bergson, etc –defend either vitalism or something that is basically equivalent to vitalism. I realize part of my reaction here is purely linguistic. For example, when Braidotti defends vitalism, she’s not– I think/I hope –defending some “life force” that animates matter and differs fundamentally from matter. No, Braidotti, inasmuch as I understand her, is referring to the capacity of matter to self-organize such as we find in the case of chemical clocks. But if that’s true, why use a term as obnoxious as “vitalistism”. Emergence. In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties.


Emergence is central in theories of integrative levels and of complex systems. For instance, the phenomenon life as studied in biology is commonly perceived as an emergent property of interacting molecules as studied in chemistry, whose phenomena reflect interactions among elementary particles, modeled in particle physics, that at such higher mass—via substantial conglomeration—exhibit motion as modeled in gravitational physics. Neurobiological phenomena are often presumed to suffice as the underlying basis of psychological phenomena, whereby economic phenomena are in turn presumed to principally emerge.

Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin FRS (January 17, 1706 [O.S.

Benjamin Franklin

January 6, 1705][1] – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions.[2] He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia's fire department and a university. Franklin, always proud of his working class roots, became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies.[6] With two partners he published the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of the British policies.

Early life in Boston. Franz Mesmer. Early life[edit] Mesmer was born in the village of Iznang, on the shore of Lake Constance in Swabia, Germany a son of master forester Anton Mesmer (1701—after 1747) and his wife Maria/Ursula (1701—1770), née Michel.[3] After studying at the Jesuit universities of Dillingen and Ingolstadt, he took up the study of medicine at the University of Vienna in 1759.

Franz Mesmer

In 1766 he published a doctoral dissertation with the Latin title De planetarum influxu in corpus humanum (On the Influence of the Planets on the Human Body), which discussed the influence of the Moon and the planets on the human body and on disease. This was not medical astrology. Building largely on Newton's theory of the tides, Mesmer expounded on certain tides in the human body that might be accounted for by the movements of the sun and moon.[4] Evidence assembled by Frank A.

Pattie suggests that Mesmer plagiarized[5] his dissertation from a work[6] by Richard Mead, an eminent English physician and Newton's friend. Works[edit] Vitalism. The synthesis of urea (and other organic substances) from inorganic compounds was counterevidence for the vitalist hypothesis that only organisms could make such compounds.


Although now rejected by mainstream science,[2] vitalism has a long history in medical philosophies: most traditional healing practices posited that disease results from some imbalance in vital forces. In the Western tradition founded by Hippocrates, these vital forces were associated with the four temperaments and humours; Eastern traditions posited an imbalance or blocking of qi (or prana). Philosophy[edit] Louis Pasteur argued that only life could catalyse fermentation. (Painting by A. Plato's world of eternal and unchanging Forms, imperfectly represented in matter by a divine Artisan, contrasts sharply with the various mechanistic Weltanschauungen, of which atomism was, by the fourth century at least, the most prominent...

Science[edit] It would be ahistorical to ridicule vitalists. Relationship to emergentism[edit]