What is vitalism? How was vitalism usurped?
Vitalism is the belief that "living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things".Where vitalism explicitly invokes a vital principle, that element is often referred to as the "vital spark", "energy" or "élan vital", which some equate with the soul.
In the 18th and 19th century vitalism was discussed among biologists, in a discussion between those who felt that the known mechanics of physics would eventually explain the difference between life and non-life and vitalists who argued that life could not be reduced to a mechanistic process.
the hereditary determinants are distributed in a qualitatively uneven way within the fertilized egg. As the cell divides, the daughter cells are genetically differentiated and these differences explain the differentiation of organisms. In 1888, Roux described experiments designed to test the idea of embryonic self-differentiation. At the first cleavage in the development of a frog, he destroyed one blastomere with a hot needle. In about 20 per cent of the cases, the remaining blastomere continued to develop, and it developed into half an embryo. He concluded that blastomeres develop independently, depending primarily on their internal constitution. This supported the view that development was controlled by material that was successively divided among the cells of the organism. This material, he thought, determined the growth of the organism in a fully mechanical form. In 1891, Driesch performed what seemed at first to be a very similar experiment, but with dramatically different results