theory of preformation

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Noun1.theory of preformation - a theory (popular in the 18th century and now discredited) that an individual develops by simple enlargement of a tiny fully formed organism (a homunculus) that exists in the germ cell
theory - a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"
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References in periodicals archive ?
As well as there was an illation among the conceptual developments of Malebranche, Leibniz and Bonnet, there was also a logical necessity between the concept of nesting and a strict theory of preformation. Therefore, it was not surprising that the proponents of preformation were led to the development of the concept of nesting: if descendants were already formed in the progenitor, the same should be true for all the successive generations.
Kant compares this middle position with the theory of preformation, a speculation belonging to William Harvey (1578-1657) and Charles Bonnet (1729-1793) that took on various formulations.

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