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The question of a vital force is an old one that up to within a few years back was considered by the average follower of the physiologic leaders as one that was unworthy of serious scientific discussion. It was largely the fashion to treat all vital phenomena as manifestations of what must be some form of chemic or physical action, mainly, it would appear, on the assumption that it could not possibly be anything else. It was often confidently claimed that physics and chemistry would yet reveal all the secrets of vitality, and that to acknowledge anything special and mysterious, such as an unknown and possibly unknowable vital force or principle, was unscientific and reactionary. Within the last ten or twelve years, however, there has been a rather marked change in the general trend of views on this subject, as has been pointed out by Dr. McKendrick, and vital processes
VITALITY.. JAMA. 1896;XXVI(20):979–980. doi:10.1001/jama.1896.02430720031006