• This paper aims to spotlight some important, but neglected, aspects of early modern interactions between matter theories and the life sciences. It will trace the ways in which atomistic or corpuscular modes of reasoning were adopted to explain the origin of life. To that end this paper will examine three seventeenth-century natural philosophers: Daniel Sennert (1572–1637), Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655) and Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680). Through the analysis of their discussions on the minute constitutive parts of living beings (plants, animals and human beings) as living corpuscles, it will inquire into the exchange of ideas among those who advocated “non-mechanist” or “vitalistic” types of corpuscular philosophy. This paper’s ultimate goal is to shed light on the role of bio-medical ideas in seventeenth-century natural philosophy.

    1. Introduction
    2. Sennert, Corpuscles and Spontaneous Generation
    3. Gassendi and Seminal Molecules
    4. Kircher and the Corpuscular Origin of Life
    5. A Brief Conclusion