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Animals, Humans, Machines And Thinking Matter, 1690-1707

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the Newtonian and especially Leibnizian aspects and background of Maupertuis' thesis, given that his concept of molecule has been described as a 'materialization of the monad', then turns to the core of his discussion of molecules and their properties, after which the author consider Diderot's challenge to Maupertuis, that higher-level properties belong to the level of organisation rather than that of the element. In order to properly locate the debate between Maupertuis and Diderot, the author provides some elements regarding the Newtonian and Leibnizian context, as these large-scale programs in natural philosophy also had direct influence on the formulation of positions concerning generation or development, and reflections on the nature of living beings. Emergentist theories, to use contemporary terminology, have the advantage that they take into account the properties of the constituent parts, including in a reductionist sense, but seek to study the consequences of their interaction.

Keywords:contemporary terminology; Diderot; emergentist theory; Leibnizian context; Maupertuis; natural philosophy; Newtonian context



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