Spontaneous Generation

Spontaneous generation is an obsolete body of thought on the ordinary formation of living organisms without descent from similar organisms. Typically, the idea was that certain forms such as fleas could arise from inanimate matter such as dust, or that maggots could arise from dead flesh. A variant idea was that of equivocal generation, in which species such as tapeworms arose from unrelated living organisms, now understood to be their hosts. Doctrines supporting such processes of generation held that these processes are commonplace and regular. Such ideas are in contradiction to that of univocal generation: effectively exclusive reproduction from genetically related parent(s), generally of the same species.

The doctrine of spontaneous generation was coherently synthesized by Aristotle, who compiled and expanded the work of prior natural philosophers and the various ancient explanations of the appearance of organisms; it held sway for two millennia. Today it is generally accepted to have been decisively dispelled during the 19th century by the experiments of Louis Pasteur. He expanded upon the investigations of predecessors (such as Francesco Redi who, in the 17th century, had performed experiments based on the same principles). However, the experimental difficulties are greater than people might think, and objections from persons holding the traditional views persisted. Many of these residual objections were routed by the work of John Tyndall, succeeding the work of Pasteur. Ultimately, the ideas of spontaneous generation were displaced by advances in germ theory and cell theory.

Disproof of the traditional ideas of spontaneous generation is no longer controversial among professional biologists. Objections and doubts have been dispelled by studies and documentation of the life cycles of various life forms. However, the principles of the very different matter of the original abiogenesis on this planet — of living from non-living material — still are under investigation.

Read more about Spontaneous GenerationDescription, Pre-Aristotelian Philosophers, Aristotle, Classical Writers After Aristotle, Adoption in Christianity, Scientific Method

Other articles related to "spontaneous generation, generation, spontaneous":

Abiogenesis - Conceptual History - Spontaneous Generation
... Belief in the ongoing spontaneous generation of certain forms of life from non-living matter goes back to ancient Greek philosophy and continued to have support in Western ... Classical notions of spontaneous generation, which can be considered under the modern term, abiogenesis, held that certain complex, living organisms are generated by decaying ... spontaneous generation) is to question reason, sense and experience ...
Maria Sibylla Merian - Biography
... The scholars of the time believed that insects came from "spontaneous generation of rotting mud", an Aristotelian idea held in spite of—or perhaps ... Although St Thomas Aquinas concluded that spontaneous generation of insects was the work of the Devil, Pope Innocent V in the thirteenth century had declared that belief in spontaneous generation ...
Spontaneous Generation - Scientific Method
... of his book Exercitationes de Generatione Animalium (Essays on the Generation of Animals), he made an expression of biogenesis "omnia ex ovo" (everything from eggs) ... In the first major experiment to challenge spontaneous generation, he placed meat in a variety of sealed, open, and partially covered containers ... from John Ray in 1671 to members of the Royal Society of London Whether there be any spontaneous or anomalous generation of animals, as has been the constant opinion of naturalists ...
Timeline Of Biology And Organic Chemistry - 1600–1699
... — William Harvey concluded that all animals, including mammals, develop from eggs, and spontaneous generation of any animal from mud or excrement was an impossibility. 1668 — Francesco Redi disproved spontaneous generation by showing that fly maggots only appear on pieces of meat in jars if the jars are open to the air ... Leeuwenhoek's discoveries renew the question of spontaneous generation in microorganisms ...
John Needham
... there was a life force that produced spontaneous generation ... which was created by Voltaire during a feud regarding spontaneous generation in which Voltaire was against Needham and his theories ... Needham's experiments with the spontaneous generation of life were cited by French Enlightenment philosopher Baron d'Holbach in his atheist work, the System of Nature ...

Famous quotes containing the words generation and/or spontaneous:

    What makes this Generation of Vermin so very Prolifick, is the indefatigable Diligence with which they apply themselves to their Business. A Man does not undergo more watchings and fatigues in a Campaign, than in the Course of a vicious Amour. As it is said of some Men, that they make their Business their Pleasure, these Sons of Darkness may be said to make their Pleasure their Business. They might conquer their corrupt Inclinations with half the Pains they are at in gratifying them.
    Joseph Addison (1672–1719)

    I sometimes feel a great ennui, profound emptiness, doubts which sneer in my face in the midst of the most spontaneous satisfactions. Well, I would not exchange all that for anything, because it seems to me, in my conscience, that I am doing my duty, that I am obeying a superior fatality, that I am following the Good and that I am in the Right.
    Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880)