A Contribution to the Pasteur-Pouchet Controversy

Pouchet as a philosopher and historian of the natural sciences

  • Antonio Piccolomini D'Aragona
Keywords: Pasteur, Pouchet, spontaneous generation, controversy, SSK


Building upon Raynaud’s analysis of the controversy between Pasteur and Pouchet over spontaneous generation, I single out the philosophical and historical reasons which led Pouchet to defend the idea that life can appear in the absence of parents. In particular, I retrace the theological arguments used by Pouchet for showing that spontaneous generation copes with the Christian doctrine. Then, I provide an outline of Pouchet’s interpretation of the development of natural sciences in the Middle Ages. Finally, I argue that Pouchet’s endorsement to spontaneous generation was determined by his looking upon Albert the Great’s philosophical and scientific heritage as a combination of both theological orthodoxy and experimental attitude, a mix that satisfies the metaphysical and epistemological tenets of Pouchet’s philosophy of the natural sciences.