Jacques Loeb

Jacques Loeb In existographies, Jacques Loeb (1859-1924) (CR:13) was a German-born American physiologist and chnopsologist (biologist) noted for his work in attempting to establish a materialistic biology, specifically in regards the nature of plant and animal movement and also the question of the origin of life. In 1920, American mathematician William Sidis classified Loeb, among the various life theorists, as the representative of the "extreme mechanistic view" with his classification of a living body as a "chemical machine." [9]

Tropism theory
In 1888, Loeb, in his “The Orientation of Animals to Light”, first introduced his tropism theory or forced movement theory action (see also: induced movement), the beginning of a long effort to overthrow that anthropomorphic-view of animal and plant movement, e.g. that protoplasmic substances move toward the source of light, "because of curiosity", as many argued during Loeb's day. [7]

In 1918, Loeb, in his Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct, stated that his aim is not only to overthrow the anthropomorphized view of movement but also the Aristotelian view or teleological viewpoint of movement—in his own words:

“The Aristotelian viewpoint still prevails to some extent in biology, namely that an animal moves only for a purpose, either to seek food or to seek its mate or to undertake something else connected with preservation of the individual or the race. The Aristotelians had explained the process in the inanimate world in the same teleological way. Science began when Galileo overthrew this Aristotelian mode of thought and introduced the method of quantitative experiments which leads to mathematical laws free form the metaphysical conception of purpose. The analysis of animal conduct only becomes scientific in so far as it drops the question of purpose and reduces the reactions of animals to quantitative laws.”

Loeb goes on to state that this is what he has attempted in his tropism theory of animal conduct.

Laboratory created life | Artificial parthenogenesis
See main: Laboratory produced life
Loeb’s circa 1905 work on artificial parthenogenesis (virgin generation) based on pure physical chemistry mechanism, is said to have been a blow to vitalism. [5] Loeb’s follow-up books on the mechanical, dynamical, or physical chemical view of the organism seem to be indicative of this. [6] American writer Frank Stockbridge’s 1912 article “Creating Life in the Laboratory” quotes a good deal from Loeb and his work—some examples of which are: [1]

Life is a chemical reaction; death is the cessation of that reaction; living matter, from the microscopic yeast spore to humanity itself, is merely the result of accidental groupings of otherwise inert matter, and life can actually be created by repeating in the laboratory nature’s own methods and processes!”

This passage, to note, may be a mixture of Loeb and of the views of Henry Bastian, as Stockbridge’s article is not clear enough on the matter. The following, however, are explicitly attributed to Loeb:

“We cannot hope to succeed in making living matter artificially unless we have a clear conception of what living matter is.”

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Human mathematics
In 1921, Loeb sent a copy of his Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct to US Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, along with a letter commenting that his book may become a forerunner to some type of human mathematics: [2]

“I think one day—by some future generation [the ideas put forth in my book]—may be elaborated into a mathematical theory of human conduct.”

This internal force/external force view of animal action, of course, was first espoused by Goethe in 1796 (see: Goethe timeline). American physical evolutionist Henry Osborn states, in his 1916 The Origin of Life: On the Theory of Action, Reaction and Interaction of Energy, that he drew heavily from Loeb’s 1906 Dynamics of Living Matter. [4]

Quotes | On
The following are quotes on Loeb:

“Another important study showed how the sessile marine annelid Spirographis Spallanzani reacted to light in the same way as did plants studied by Loeb’s friend and unofficial mentor, the renowned German botanist Julius von Sachs. These then were the ‘proofs’ of the ‘heliocentrism of animals and its identity with the heliocentrism of plants’. His point being: since we do NOT attribute will, desire, and mind to plants, there is no reason to attribute such properties to animals, which perform in the same way under the same conditions. Loeb envisioned a biology that would become as completely deterministic as he believed physical science to be. Under the right conditions, the behavior of an organism—plant, animal, or human—is completely determined and therefore accurately predictable.”
— Jerry Hirsch (1973), “Introduction” (pg. x) to Dover edition of Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct

Quotes | By
The following are quotes by Loeb:

“Confusion always reigns when anthropomorphic motives are brought into scientific research. Before the time of Galileo, a body sinking in a fluid ‘sought its place’. Galileo and his followers put an end to the sovereignty of this psychology, at least in inanimate nature. Mankind has no reason to regret this revolution. In biology, however, even at this present date, protoplasmic substances still move toward the source of light ‘because of curiosity’.”
— Jacques Loeb (1905), Studies in General Physiology (pg. 81); cited by Jerry Hirsch (1973) in “Introduction” (pgs. viii-ix) to Dover edition of Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct

“If our existence is based on the play of blind forces and only a matter of chance; if we ourselves are only chemical mechanisms, how can there be an ethics for us?”
— Jacques Loeb (1912), The Mechanistic Conception of Life (Ѻ)

“The book is dedicated to that group of freethinkers, including d'Alembert, Diderot, Holbach, and Voltaire, who first dared to follow the consequences of a mechanistic science—incomplete as it then was—to the rules of human conduct and who thereby laid the foundation of that spirit of tolerance, justice, and gentleness.”
— Jacques Loeb (1916), The Organism as a Whole: from a Physico-Chemical Standpoint (pg. viii)

“The analysis of the mechanism of voluntary and instinctive actions of animals is based on the assumption that all these motions are determined by internal and external forces.”
— Jacques Loeb (1918), Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. 13); cited by Libb Thims (2007) in Human Chemistry [3]

“What has been stated for light holds true also if light is replaced by any other form of energy. Motions caused by light or other agencies appear to the layman as expressions of will and purpose on the part of the animal, whereas in reality the animal is forced to go where carried by its legs. For the conduct of animals consists of forced movements.”
— Jacques Loeb (1918), Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. 14)

“the Aristotelian viewpoint still prevails to some extent in biology, namely, that an animal moves only for a purpose, either to seek food or to seek its mate or to undertake something else connected with the preservation of the individual or the race. The Aristotelians had explained the processes in the inanimate world in the same teleological way. Science began when Galileo overthrew this Aristotelian mode of thought and introduced the method of quantitative experiments which leads to mathematical laws free from the metaphysical conception of purpose. The analysis of animal conduct only becomes scientific in so far as it drops the question of purpose and reduces the reactions of animals to quantitative laws.”
— Jacques Loeb (1918), Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pgs. 17-18)

“Tropisms are reactions of the organism as a whole, while reflexes are reactions of isolated segments.”
— Jacques Loeb (1918), Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. 23)

“The writer described such reactions first for tube worms like Serpula, which withdraws suddenly into its tube when a shadow passes over it or when the intensity of light is suddenly diminished in some other way. The anthropomorphists, of course, declare this reaction to be induced by the instinctive fear of an enemy, oblivious of the fact that if they were consistent they would have to give the same explanation for the twitching of a muscle upon rapid changes in the intensity of a current.”
— Jacques Loeb (1918), Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. 95)

“Harper stated for the heliotropism of certain worms, that in in strong light the animals move by heliotropism, in weak light by ‘trial and error’. These statements are as erroneous as the assertion that while a stone falls under the influence of gravity a feather finds its way down by the method of ‘'trial and error’.”
— Jacques Loeb (1918), Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. 154)

“This tentative extension of the forced movement or tropism theory of animal conduct may explain why higher animals and human beings seem to possess freedom of will, although all movements are of the nature of forced movements. The tropistic effects of memory images and the modification and inhibition of tropisms by memory images make the number of possible reactions so great that prediction becomes almost impossible and it is this impossibility chiefly which gives rise to the doctrine of free will. The theory of free will originated and is held not among physicists but among verbalists. We have shown that an organism goes where its legs carry it and that the direction of the motion is forced upon the organism.”
— Jacques Loeb (1918), Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. 171)

“The persistent courtship of a human male for a definite individual female may appear as an example of persistent will, yet it is a complicated tropism in which sex hormones and definite memory images are the determining factors.”
— Jacques Loeb (1918), Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. 172)

“Our conception of the existence of ''free will'' in human beings rests on the fact that our knowledge is often not sufficiently complete to account for the orienting forces, especially when we carry out a "premeditated" act, or when we carry out an act which gives us pain or may lead to our destruction, and our incomplete knowledge is due to the sheer endless number of possible combinations and mutual inhibitions of the orienting effect of individual memory images.”
— Jacques Loeb (1918), Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. 172)

References
1. Stockridge, Frank P. (1912). “Creating Life in the Laboratory”, Cosmopolitan, 52(6): 774-81, May.
2. (a) Gussin, A.E.S. (1963). “Jacques Loeb: the Man and his Tropism Theory of Animal Conduct” (pg. 321), Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 18: 321-36.
(b) Loeb, Jacques. (1918). Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. xx). J.B. Lippincott Co.; Dover, 1978.
3. (a) Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume Two) (Loeb, pgs. 475, 523). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
(b) Loeb, Jacques. (1918). Forced Movements, Tropisms, and Animal Conduct (pg. 13). J.B. Lippincott Co.; Dover, 1978.
4. (a) Loeb, Jacques. (1906). The Dynamics of Living Matter. Columbia University Press.
(b) Osborn, Henry F. (1916). The Origin of Life: on the Theory of Action, Reaction and Interaction of Energy (pg. xx). The Science Press; Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1921.
5. Johnstone, James. (1921). The Mechanism of Life in Relation to Modern Physical Theory (pg. 159, 193). Longmans, Green & Co.
6. (a) Leob, Jacques. (1906). The Dynamics of Living Matter. Columbia University Press.
(b) Leob, Jacques. (1912). The Mechanistic Conception of Life: Biological Essays. The University of Chicago Press.
(c) Leob, Jacques. (1916). The Organism as a Whole: from a Physicochemical Viewpoint. Putnam.
7. Loeb, Jacques. (1888). “The Orientation of Animals to Light” (“Die Orientierung der Tiere gegen das Licht”), Sitzngsb. Wurzb. Physik.-md. Ges.
8. Haeckel, Ernst. (1930). The Love Letters of Ernst Haeckel: Written Between 1898 and 1903 (editor: Johannes Werner) (elective affinity, pgs. 101, 212, 260). Methuen.
9. Sidis, William J. (1920). The Animate and the Inanimate (§7: Theories of Life). Draft stage 1916; Published: R.G. Badger, 1925.

External links
Jacques Loeb – Wikipedia.

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