Methodological Parameters of the Research of Lazzaro Spallanzani

Maria Elice Brzezinski Prestes


The Italian Lazzaro Spallanzani belongs to a tradition of naturalists of the 18th century characterized by the systematic adoption of the experimental method of research in living beings, called at the time “the Art of Observation”. In this paper, it is argued that Spallanzani had a epistemological model which structured the relations between the empirical findings, theory and method, although he only occasionally presented reflections on it. In a small memory which was to serve as the syllabus of the discipline of Natural History to be held at the University of Pavia, Spallanzani argues for the necessity that discoveries obtained through observation and experience be united in what he called “the systematic part of science”, i.e. in theories on the living beings, which further needed to be combined with the “spirit of observation”, i.e. what we came to call the “experimental method”.

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