Spontaneous Generation

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Spontaneous Generation


Undated manuscript fragment




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Ms. 2882                                                                                                                           (77

Spontaneous Generation.

[undated fragment]


(Article to write for the Revue, destined to show to the non-specialized public the [part?] they can take in the questions that appear most foreign to them.)

Here is what reason says after the first examination:

One of two things is true:

Either the germs of the vegetables and animals [prec  tent] for all eternity in the universe, swept across space by the ether, gas, air, liquid, or fluid, ready to be deposited in a material, and awaiting favorable conditions to develop;

Or else these germs form where those favorable conditions manifest themselves.

In the first case, generation is a simple impetus given to the germ, which is the reservoir of life, the receptacle of a soul;

In the second, the germ is a formation, and the life that is in it is a general property of matter, just like electricity, heat, movement, magnetism, a higher faculty, which supposes a more complex preparation.

In the first case, again, the genus and species are defined and distinct for all eternity, inconvertible;—in the second, they are susceptible to evolution, modification and variation, to the point of convertibility: at least [   ] that it could be thus.

(Metaphysical, philosophical, moral consequences to be drawn from this, etc., etc.)




Proudhon, P.-J. (Pierre-Joseph), 1809-1865, “Spontaneous Generation,” The Libertarian Labyrinth, accessed November 11, 2019, http://library.libertarian-labyrinth.org/items/show/3149.