Can you tell the difference between these two molecules of urea?
Once upon a time, many years ago, people who considered such things believed that there were substances that could only be synthesized by living organisms. This dichotomy between living (organic) and non-living (inorganic) is the basis of today’s chemistry sub disciplines. It was understood that life arose from and involved “life forces” that were apart from the purely physical and chemical realm. In other words, all "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".1 This is the philosophy of “vitalism.”
|Friedrich Wohler (1800-1882) photo credit|
|Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) Photo credit|
1. Bechtel,W. and R.C. Rirchardson. (1998). Vitalism. In E. Craig (Ed.), RoutledgeEncyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge. Vitalism. Accessed March 28, 2014