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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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Johann Friedrich Blumenbach and the Life Sciences in Germany: His Rise to Eminence from the 1770s

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach and the Life Sciences in Germany: His Rise to Eminence from the 1770s

Chapter:
(p.186) Chapter Seven Johann Friedrich Blumenbach and the Life Sciences in Germany: His Rise to Eminence from the 1770s
Source:
The Gestation of German Biology
Author(s):

John H. Zammito

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226520827.003.0008

Blumenbach proved a critical eminence in the last third of the eighteenth century for German life science. This chapter begins by situating Blumenbach in the shifting “semantic field” of natural history in Europe over the second half of the eighteenth century, in particular in relation to Linnaeus, Buffon and Camper. Two areas – vertebrate paleontology and the study of anthropoid apes – proved crucial to the epoch and hence to Blumenbach, raising questions of species continuity from ape to man, and of the unity of the human species, i.e. the problem of “race.” The chapter then traces Blumenbach’s intellectual career at the University of Göttingen. He made his reputation with his dissertation, On Human Variety, in 1775, then consolidated his leadership in German life science with his Handbuch der Naturgeschichte, with its many editions starting in 1779. He articulated his epochal idea of epigenesis, the Bildungstrieb, in 1780/81.

Keywords:   Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, natural history, ape debate, race, Peter Camper, Buffon, University of Göttingen, On Human Variety, Handbuch der Naturgeschichte, Bildungstrieb

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