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The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, Volume IILogic, Loyalty, and Community$
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John J. McDermott

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780823224845

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823224845.001.0001

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The Mechanical, the Historical, and the Statistical

The Mechanical, the Historical, and the Statistical

(p.711) 23 The Mechanical, the Historical, and the Statistical
The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, Volume II
John J. McDermott
Fordham University Press

This chapter begins by describing vitalism and materialism. The name “vitalism” is often given to those doctrines which have used the hypothesis that the phenomena of living organisms are due to some process which is essentially identical in its nature with the process exemplified by people's conscious voluntary activities. On the other hand, some things and events in the natural world—such as the recurrent movements of the heavenly bodies and the processes which attend the workings of machines—seem to be in many respects essentially different from the processes which result from people's plans, choices, and voluntary deeds. What is called a “mechanical theory of nature” or “materialism” undertakes to account for the vital processes, for the activities of organisms. The chapter then considers the three classifications of scientific methods: the historical, the mechanical, and the statistical.

Keywords:   vitalism, materialism, living organisms, natural world, mechanical theory, scientific methods, historical method, mechanical method, statistical method

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