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Divine MachinesLeibniz and the Sciences of Life$
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Justin E. H. Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691141787

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691141787.001.0001

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Games of Nature, the Emergence of Organic Form, and the Problem of Spontaneity

Games of Nature, the Emergence of Organic Form, and the Problem of Spontaneity

(p.197) Chapter Six Games of Nature, the Emergence of Organic Form, and the Problem of Spontaneity
Divine Machines

Justin E. H. Smith

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at three distinct cases of natural generativity: (i) the influence of the maternal imagination in fetal development, (ii) spontaneous generation, and (iii) the origins of paleontological forms. It considers Leibniz's position in the history of attempts to account for the emergence of organic order in three broad classes of entity: embryos, worms, and fossils. Insofar as these classes are not generally seen today as giving rise to the same kind of questions, this chapter, more so than in the others, strays for long periods from Leibniz and into the broader context of these natural-philosophical questions in order to properly understand the full rationale of Leibniz's strategies in answering them.

Keywords:   G. W. Leibniz, natural generativity, maternal imagination, fetal development, spontaneous generation, paleontological forms

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