Diderot and the Metamorphosis of Species  book cover
1st Edition

Diderot and the Metamorphosis of Species

ISBN 9781138967687
Published July 21, 2016 by Routledge
232 Pages

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Book Description

In this study Dr. Gregory examines how Diderot borrowed from Lucretius, Buffon, Maupertuis, and probability theory, and combined ideas from these sources in an innovative fashion to hypothesize that species are mutable and that all life arose randomly from a single prototype.

Table of Contents


  1. Chaos, Flux, Time, and Probability
  2. Embryology, Epigenesis, and the Metamorphosis of Species
  3. Spontaneous Generation
  4. The Chain of Beings
  5. The Mutability of Species
  6. The Ascent of Consciousness





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Mary Gregory is a scholar of the French Enlightenment. For the past ten years she has been researching Diderot’s views regarding the metamorphosis of species in four of his texts, namely, the Pensées philosophiques (1746), the Lettre sur les aveugles à l’usage de ceux qui voient (1749), the Pensées sur l’interprétation de la nature (1753), and the trilogy, the Entretien entre d’Alembert et Diderot (1769), the Rêve de d’Alembert (1769), and the Suite de l’Entretien (1769).