Jan Swammerdam and the limits of preformationism



Published 05-12-2019
Miguel Escribano Cabeza


This paper takes an organicist perspective of Jan Swammerdam's conception of metamorphis which allows us to identify a continuity betweem W. Harvey's epigenetism and G.W. Leibniz' preformationism – two historically opposed perspectives. In line with this reading, I provide a critical assessment of the different preformationist interpretations of Swammerdam. The thesis that I defend in this paper is that the idea of preformation does not imply so much a theory about the origin of the embryo but a model of ontogenetic development that cannot be catalogued as mechanistic or as vitalist.

How to Cite

Escribano Cabeza, M. (2019). Jan Swammerdam and the limits of preformationism. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 34(3), 423–439. https://doi.org/10.1387/theoria.20336
Abstract 364 | PDF (Español) Downloads 272 XML (Español) Downloads 341



Jan Swammerdam, metamorphosis, preformationism, epigenesis, organicism, William Harvey, G.W. Leibniz