Page:History of botany (Sachs; Garnsey).djvu/382

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362 Introduction. [BOOK in.

set in motion, and it mattered not what the result might be. In all questions connected with the phenomena of life, our own life is not only the starting-point but also the standard of our conceptions ; what animate nature is as opposed to inanimate we discern first by comparing our own being with that of other objects. From our own vital motions we argue to those of the higher animals, which we comprehend immediately and in- stinctively from their conduct ; by aid of these the motions of the lower animals also become intelligible to us, and further conclusions from analogy lead us finally to plants, whose vitality is only in this way made known to us. While plants were thus even in ancient times regarded as living creatures and allied to animals, further reflection naturally- suggested the idea that the phenomena of animal life would be reproduced in plants even in details. We learn from the botanical fragments of Aristotle that this was in fact the way in which the first questions in vegetable physiology arose ; they assumed a more definite form with Cesalpino, and later physiologists repeatedly made use of similar conclusions from analogy. The historian of this branch of botanical science must seek no other beginning of it, for it had no other and could have no other from the nature of the case. And if preconceived analogies between plants and animals often proved deceptive and mischievous, yet continued investigation gradually brought to light more important and more essential points of agreement between the two kingdoms ; it has be- come more and more evident in our own days, that the material foundations of vegetable and animal life are in the main identical, that the processes connected with nourish- ment, movement of juices, sexual and asexual propagation present the most remarkable similarities in both kingdoms.

If the first founders of scientific vegetable physiology sur- rendered themselves thoroughly to teleological views, this was owing to the circumstances of the time, and it served indeed to promote the first advances of the science. There was no