The Cycle of Life:
An History of Experimental Ecology

Divinity Library
Sterling Memorial
Manuscripts & Archives
Kline Sciences
Medical Historical
Exhibit Map

Case 1

George Gregory, The Economy of Nature: Explained and Illustrated on the Principles of Modern Philosophy (London: J. Johnson, 1804).

In the tradition of natural theology, George Gregory devoted three volumes to a comprehensive survey of knowledge of the natural world. Like Paley's work this was meant to be a program of study of God's creation that spanned the chemistry of plant respiration to human morality. In volume three, he draws on the work of Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin's grandfather and a renowned botanist) and the chemists Joseph Priestly and Lavoisier to describe the interconnected respiratory processes of plants and animals. When writing of 'putrid putrefaction", Gregory explained that it destroys the equilibrium which holds the constituent principles of bodies in a state of combination. It reduces organic beings into their constituent parts. If God is evident in the immense bodies of operations of the celestial sphere, then "surely it is much more so in these minute operations which are the immediate objects of our senses, where everything is plainly the effect of intelligence and design; and, however ignorant and superficial observers may wander from the path of truth, the naturalist at least can never be an atheist." (p. 77)

Case 1
  William Paley, Natural Theology, 1794
  Carl Linnaeus, Nemesis Divina, 1758
  George Gregory, The Economy of Nature, 1804
Case 2
  Vladimir Vernadsky, Biosphere and Noosphere, 1939
  Pierre Teilard de Chardin, Human Energy, 1969
  Pierre Teilard de Chardin, The Heart of Matter, 1978
Case 3
  John Neale Dalton, The Book of Common Prayer, 1920
  Joan Halifax, The Fruitful Darkness, 1993
  Hans Dirk van Hoogstraten, Deep Economy, 2001
  Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan, The Garden of Microbial Delights, 1993
  Nina Witoszek and Andrew Brennan, eds., Philosophical Dialogues, 1999
  Roger S. Gottlieb, ed., This
Sacred Earth
, 2004
Lloyd Ackert
Whitney Humanities Center
Yale University
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