Susannah Gibson

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?

Susannah Gibson

Talk: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?

Susannah Gibson explains how a study of pond slime could cause people to question the existence of the soul; observation of eggs could make a man doubt that God had created the world; how the discovery of the Venus fly-trap was linked to the French Revolution; and how interpretations of fossils could change our understanding of the Earth's history. Using rigorous historical research, and a lively and readable style, this book vividly captures the big concerns of eighteenth-century science. And the debates concerning the divisions of life did not end there; they continue to have resonances in modern biology.

Susannah Gibson

Susannah Gibson is an affiliated scholar at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge on the history of the life sciences in the eighteenth century.

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?: How eighteenth-century science disrupted the natural order

Since the time of Aristotle, there had been a clear divide between the three kingdoms of animal, vegetable, and mineral. But by the eighteenth century, biological experiments and the wide range of new creatures coming to Europe from across the world, challenged these neat divisions.

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