Histoire naturelle, génerale et particulière 1749
Published between 1749 and 1766, and with supplements added to the 1789 edition. The Histoire, consisting of 44 volumes, considered the history of the earth, anthropology and the natural history of quadrupeds; it was the first work to put the apparently disconnected facts of natural history into some kind of intelligible form. In one of the volumes, The Epochs of Nature, he questioned biblical chronology for the first time, and raised the Earth’s age from the traditional figure of 6,000 years to the seemingly colossal estimate of 75,000 years. A literal reading of the Bible seemed also to be contradicted wen Buffon observed that some animals retain parts that are vestigial and no longer useful, suggesting that they have evolved rather than having been spontaneously generated. Buffon was forced to recant by the authorities.
“It is...the way we are constituted, our life, our soul which in effect makes our existence. From this point of view matter is (only) an extraneous envelope.”
In 1749 Buffon wrote. “Natural History taken in its full extent, is an immense History, embracing all the objects that the Universe presents to us. This prodigious multitude of Quadrupeds, Birds, Fish, Insects, Plants, Minerals, etc., offers a vast spectacle to the curiosity of the human spirit; its totality is so great that it seems, and actually is, inexhaustible in all its details. . . the hand of the Creator seems not to have opened to give being to a certain fixed number of species; rather, it seems that is has thrown out, all at once, a world of beings related and unrelated, an infinity of harmonious and unharmonious combinations, and a perpetual destruction and renewal. . . . (Nature is) a work perpetually alive, a worker ceaselessly active, who knows how to employ everything. . . . Time, space, and matter are its means, the Universe its object, movement and life its goal”.