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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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From Natural History to History of Nature: From Buffon to Kant and Herder (and Blumenbach)

From Natural History to History of Nature: From Buffon to Kant and Herder (and Blumenbach)

Chapter:
(p.172) Chapter Six From Natural History to History of Nature: From Buffon to Kant and Herder (and Blumenbach)
Source:
The Gestation of German Biology
Author(s):

John H. Zammito

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226520827.003.0007

The historicization of nature emerged across the eighteenth century first in the development of historical geology and then in the historicization of life forms. Fossils and their stratification and the sense of ruptures in geological lime (“catastrophism”) not only dramatically extended the duration of the history of the earth into “deep time” but also included the idea of species extinction and thus raised the question of change in life forms over time. Buffon was crucial for the eighteenth-century awakening to historicization of nature. Drawing on Buffon, Kant spearheaded the formulation, in Germany, of a new sense of Naturgeschichte as a literal history of nature. Herder radicalized this reception into a theory of developmental change in life forms that alarmed Kant in its potential materialism (“hylozoism”). For Herder, nature was dynamic, indeed alive with forces of transformation.

Keywords:   historicization of nature, historical geology, fossil stratification, deep time, catastrophism, Buffon, Immanuel Kant, Naturgeschichte, Herder, hylozoism

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