Clandestinity,Authority and Experiments: Styles and Controversies on Spontaneous Generation from the Journal de Trévoux (1735) to Réaumur (1757)

Marc Ratcliff


The article investigates the role of anonymous writings in the controversy on spontaneous generation,notably those involving Réaumur,Needham and Buffon. Contrary to the standard view,it is apparent that Needham's and Buffon's theories and experiments were not neglected,but were discussed in a number of articles published in scientific journals,as the Journal Britannique and the Journal Economique.The perusal of scientific journals of the mid-18th century shows that most articles dealing with generation were anonymous.Such a practice was not confined to publications containing materialistic views,but was also adopted by authors who wanted to avoid public involvement in debates on metaphysical issues.

Key Words: Scientific journals - Spontaneous Generation - Rèaumur,Needham,Buffon

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