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Evolutionism in Eighteenth-Century French Thought

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Mary Efrosini Gregory

This book examines how eight eighteenth-century French theorists – Maillet, Montesquieu, La Mettrie, Buffon, Maupertuis, Diderot, Rousseau, and Voltaire – addressed evolutionism. Each thinker laid down a building block that would eventually open the door to the mutability of species and a departure from the long-held belief that the chain of beings is fixed. This book describes how the philosophes established a triune relationship among contemporary scientific discoveries, random creationism propelled by the motive and conscious properties of matter, and the notion of the chain of being, along with its corollaries, plenitude and continuity. Also addressed is the contemporary debate over whether apes could ever be taught to speak as well as the issue of race and the family of man.

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Notes 253

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Notes  INTRODUCTION 1. Aristotle, History of Animals, edited by D. M. Balme (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), 7.1.588b–5, pp. 61, 63. 2. “Chain,” Oxford English Dictionary Online, 4a, http://dictionary.oed.com (Apr. 12, 2006). 3. Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 55. 4. Aristotle, Metaphysics: Books I-IX, translated by Hugh Tredennick (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1933), 2.2.994a–10, pp. 87, 89. 5. Ibid., 2.2.994b, p. 91. 6. Aristotle, Metaphysics: Books X-XIV, translated by Hugh Tredennick (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1935), 12.6.1071b15, p. 141. 7. Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 56. Also, Aristotle, History of Animals, edited by D. M. Balme (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), book 7.1.588b, pp. 61, 63. 8. Aristotle, Parts of Animals, translated by A. L. Peck (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1937), 4.13.697b, pp. 427, 429. Aristotle discusses the shared forms and functions of various species of animals. See also Aristotle, History of Animals, edited by D. M. Balme (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), 2.8–9, pp. 103, 105, 107. Discussed by Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 57. 9. This is my translation. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. “Parcourant ensuite successivement & par ordre les différens objets qui...

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