Henry Clark

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In existographies, Henry Clark (129-82 BE) (1826-1873 ACM) (LH:6) was an American zoologist, naturalist, and philosopher, noted for []

Overview

In 1865, Clark, in his Mind in Nature: the Origin of Life, and the Mode of Development of Animals, argued the following:

“All ‘living beings’, whether animals or plants, are composed, essentially, of four chemical elements, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, which are combined in various proportions, and these elements are held together by the ‘principle of life’. We cannot go behind the veil to see the ultimate condition of this principle; it must remain, like the principle of gravity, of electricity, and many other things, a partially unexplained phenomenon; suffice it for our purpose that we consider it perhaps as fully understood as is ordinary chemical affinity. A drop of water is composed of two elements, oxygen and hydrogen, represented by OH, which are held together by ordinary or ‘natural chemical affinity’. Common hartshorn or ammonia is composed of two elements, namely, nitrogen and hydrogen, in these proportions, NH. Alcohol is composed of three elements, namely, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, represented by C4H602, in the proportions indicated, and these also are held together by natural chemical affinity. This is easily understood. It is a very simple proposition.
Now, in place of this so-called ‘natural chemical affinity’, substitute in your minds that other kind of affinity which I have called the ‘vital affinity’, and apply it to these selfsame chemical elements, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, CHON, and you have an organized being, a plant or an animal. We may have on one side of a line, ‘life’, CHON, and on the other side the same elements, CHON, but in different proportions, representing the ‘absence of life’, which is death, and between them, ‘circumstances’, e.g. flesh or blood is composed of C48H39N6O15, and when these decay and putrefy, carbonic acid (CO2), water (HO) and ammonia (NH3), are the result, which determine the conditions of these elements, whether they shall exist in one combination or another:
Organic life = CHON + circumstances
Inorganic bodies = CHON
Without reflection this might seem like the exchange of one chemical compound for another, and not the substitution of life for death, or the substitution of the vital affinity in place of natural chemical affinity; but nevertheless it is true that so closely do these two affinities approach each other in the range of their actions, that there is on the one hand the drop of resin, gum, or mucus, held together by the natural chemical affinity, and on the other hand, there are certain living beings so exceedingly simple in structure that they may be compared to a drop of gum or mucus, but from which they are distinguished by being held together and animated by the affinity which is called the principle of life.”
—Henry Clark (1865), Mind in Nature: the Origin of Life, and the Mode of Development of Animals (pgs. 7-9) [1]

This, of course, is dualism. We can compare this with the monism chemical affinity views of Goethe (Elective Affinities, 1809), wherein the "one nature" model of "affinity", or the force of chemical change, scales up and down, laboratory chemicals to humans.[2]

End matter

References

  1. Clark, Henry. (1865). Mind in Nature: the Origin of Life, and the Mode of Development of Animals (CHON, pgs. 7-9). Publisher.
  2. Thims, Libb. (2021). “Answer: I recently came across a belief called ‘abioism’ (life doesn’t really exist). What ae the best arguments against it?”, Quora; r/Hmolpedia, Feb 26.

External links

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