Wilhelm His and mechanistic approaches to development at the time of Entwicklungsmechanik

Wilhelm His and mechanistic approaches to development at the time of Entwicklungsmechanik At the end of the nineteenth century, approaches from experimental physiology made inroads into embryological research. A new generation of embryologists felt urged to study the mechanisms of organ formation. This new program, most prominently defended by Wilhelm Roux (1850–1924), was called Entwicklungsmechanik. Named variously as “causal embryology”, “physiological embryology” or “developmental mechanics”, it catalyzed the movement of embryology from a descriptive science to one exploring causal mechanisms. This article examines the specific scientific and epistemological meaning of the mechanistic approaches of embryological development by focusing on Wilhelm His’ (1831–1904) histogenetic work. Roux was neither the first, nor the only one to argue for an experimental exploration of causes in embryology. At the time of Roux, physiological explanations of the genesis of the anatomical forms were developing in parallel, not only in German-speaking countries, but in France, Switzerland and English-speaking countries as well. The experimental approach and the cellular descriptions of embryogenesis were already omni-present when Roux proposed his Entwicklungsmechanik. However, these approaches remained disjointed. It appears that it was Wilhelm His who first succeeded in combining the question of the causal factors determining epigenesis, which was closely connected with experimentation on, and cellular descriptions of, development, in a coherent and concrete synthesis, making him one of the true initiators of the developmental mechanics. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences Springer Journals

Wilhelm His and mechanistic approaches to development at the time of Entwicklungsmechanik

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Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer International Publishing AG
Subject
Philosophy; Philosophy of Science; History of Science; Life Sciences, general; Philosophy of Biology
ISSN
0391-9714
eISSN
1742-6316
D.O.I.
10.1007/s40656-017-0148-z
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

At the end of the nineteenth century, approaches from experimental physiology made inroads into embryological research. A new generation of embryologists felt urged to study the mechanisms of organ formation. This new program, most prominently defended by Wilhelm Roux (1850–1924), was called Entwicklungsmechanik. Named variously as “causal embryology”, “physiological embryology” or “developmental mechanics”, it catalyzed the movement of embryology from a descriptive science to one exploring causal mechanisms. This article examines the specific scientific and epistemological meaning of the mechanistic approaches of embryological development by focusing on Wilhelm His’ (1831–1904) histogenetic work. Roux was neither the first, nor the only one to argue for an experimental exploration of causes in embryology. At the time of Roux, physiological explanations of the genesis of the anatomical forms were developing in parallel, not only in German-speaking countries, but in France, Switzerland and English-speaking countries as well. The experimental approach and the cellular descriptions of embryogenesis were already omni-present when Roux proposed his Entwicklungsmechanik. However, these approaches remained disjointed. It appears that it was Wilhelm His who first succeeded in combining the question of the causal factors determining epigenesis, which was closely connected with experimentation on, and cellular descriptions of, development, in a coherent and concrete synthesis, making him one of the true initiators of the developmental mechanics.

Journal

History and Philosophy of the Life SciencesSpringer Journals

Published: Aug 14, 2017

References

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