Science and the Enlightenment - Chapter 5, Natural History and Physiology Summary & Analysis

Thomas L. Hankins
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The term "biology" didn't begin to be used until the end of the 18th century. Before that time and during the enlightenment, "natural history" and "physiology" covered the subject matter we now think of as biology as well as several other subject areas. In the pre-enlightenment world, still under the sway of Aristotelian distinctions, "nature" referred to anything that was not created by humans. There was much dispute about the similarities and differences between different areas of nature, as well as how humans, especially human physiology fit into the general natural scheme. Natural history and natural science started out during the enlightenment as a purely descriptive science, classifying and organizing the natural world.

In the beginning, scientists avoided looking for causes in nature and were unable to make sense of how the natural world worked. Over time...

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This section contains 1,105 words
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