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ORIGINS OF MODERNITY

natural philosophy

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Leeuwenhoek, Antoni van (1632-1723)
Epistolae physiologicae, super compluribus naturae arcanis.
Delphis : apud Adrianum Beman, 1719.

Image from Leeuwenhoek's Epistolae physiologicae

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was the leading microscopist and microscope maker of his age. The volumes used here comprise his letters. Many of these were to the Royal Society of London of which he became a Fellow in 1680. In 1677 he discovered spermatazoa in semen. The diagram displayed here reveals his preference for the theory of preformation, namely, the view that all the features of the adult animal are preformed in the 'seed'. The discovery of sperm was not well received in some quarters because many natural philosophers had followed William Harvey in claiming that all life originates with eggs.

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