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The Gestation of German BiologyPhilosophy and Physiology from Stahl to Schelling$
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John H. Zammito

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226520797

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226520827.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

The Gestation of German Biology

The Gestation of German Biology

(p.1) Introduction The Gestation of German Biology
The Gestation of German Biology

John H. Zammito

University of Chicago Press

There is need for history of eighteenth-century biology, especially concerning German developments in that era. German approaches to the life sciences have suffered continual disparagement by association with Romantic Naturphilosophie, and this needs to be contested. In fact, Naturphilosophie contributed constructively to the gestation of German biology. The introduction sets the frame for this in terms of general developments in eighteenth-century natural inquiry. Learned medicine entered theoretical crisis by 1700, demanding theoretical reconstruction. At the same time, experimental Newtonianism created new resources for natural inquiry. Herman Boerhaave proved crucial in bringing these impulses together in the Leiden medical school. In Germany, developments in life science concentrated within the medical faculties of the universities and a few research-oriented Academies of Science. The tension between Pietism and Enlightenment had a major impact on early-eighteenth-century medical faculties, especially the new faculty at Halle. In addition, French dominance posed a challenge to German cultural self-assertion. In particular, the “radical Enlightenment” embodied in French “vital materialism,” with its evocation of the médecin philosophe as protagonist, had a profound impact on the German Enlightenment affirmation of Freigeisterei, with consequences for German naturalists.

Keywords:   biology, natural history, Naturphilosophie, Pietism, vital materialism, naturalists, medical faculty, Herman Boerhaave, Freigeisterei, médecin philosophe

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