Vital forces and organization: philosophy of nature and biology in Karl Friedrich Kielmeyer.Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci. 2014 Dec; 48 Pt A:12-20.SH
The historical literature on German life science at the end of the 18th century has tried to rehabilitate eighteenth century vitalism by stressing its difference from Naturphilosophie. Focusing on the work of Karl Friedrich Kielmeyer this paper argues that these positions are based on a historiographical bias and that the clear-cut boundary between German vitalism and Naturphilosophie is historically unattested. On the contrary, they both belong to the process of conceptual genealogy that contributed to the project of a general biology. The latter emerged as the science concerned with the laws that regulate the organization of living nature as a whole. The focus on organization was, at least partially, the result of the debate surrounding the notion of "vital force", which originated in the mid-eighteenth century and caused a shift from a regulative to a constitutive understanding of teleology.