Chapter 4
Blumenbach’s Circle: Haller, Buffon, Kant, Lichtenberg, Goethe


Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsgeschichte: Blumenbach was topic of XXII Symposium

Thema: "… einer Kommunikationsform gewidmet, deren Beitrag als wichtiges unterstützendes Element zum Aufbau der Wissenschaften im klassischen Zeitalter der Naturgeschichte…"

Idea: epistolary correspondence as a technological revolution of the late 18th century for communication.  How does this play in with the development of travel for discovery and investigation?

Blumenbach is described as the "Kronzeuge" "die Bildungstradition des deutschen Neuhumanismus."

Er war "Mittelpunkt eines weitverzweigten Netzes wissenschaftlicher Kommunikation." (importance of correspondence)

as part of your essay you'll need to touch on who the major figures are in discussing Blumenbach and what material exists directly discusses Blumenbach and his contributions to science

chapter Blumenbach Kant and Goethe and revisiting romantic natural history

Blumenbach and his relationship with Kant

what was it the that they were looking for?

how to they differ from natural historians like Linnaeus and Lamarck? Bring in Petrus Campus as well as Soemmering

how can you use Goethe's scientific thought in the dissertation

take a close look at the letters between Blumenbach and Goethe

this could take up entire chapter of the dissertation

special chapters on Kant Goethe romantic science

what does romantic natural history mean in this context?

is this a distortion from Anglo American scholarship

how does lead to philosophical anthropology

look at the history of medicine side of the story also focusing on Soemmering and Campus

this too could take up a chapter in the book

Learn more about Banks: what was his education, was he a scholar/scientist?  Where did he travel, and did he know Forster well?

Banks references from a letter (he asked Blumenbach to procure the book): see G.G. Richter's Prog. De naturae apparente provigentia ratione somerium (?), 1730.

Banks letter of 1787 begins: "In consequence of your favor (?) I began to inquire  after crania to know (?) what foreign ones are here in England that might be of consequence to you…"

"…that I had not before I occupied myself with such matters for in truth I had utterly forgot the honorable (?) complement which the respectable old Professor Campes had paid to me in dedicating the enclosed plate of crania to me.  I am happy in ..?.. a copy of it to send to you which you receive with this a have made application to both the…"

Letter of 18 Jul 1989: "I am very sensible of your friendship in sending me your Jubilee publication [what publication is this?] and still more of your very obliging offer of …(?).

What else did Girtanner write? Died in 1800, wrote on various subjects, including French Revolution, physiology.


As a satirist and humorist Lichtenberg takes high rank among the German writers of the 18th century. His biting wit involved him in many controversies with well-known contemporaries, such as Johann Kaspar Lavater, whose science of physiognomy he ridiculed, and Johann Heinrich Voss, whose views on Greek pronunciation called forth a powerful satire, Über die Pronunciation der Schöpse des alten Griechenlandes (1782; "On the Pronunciation of the Muttonheads of Old Greece").

This caricature was probably done by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), who, as an anthropologist and zoologist, was a colleague of Lichtenberg at the University of Göttingen.


Epistolary Friendships

Networking in the 18th Century

Buffon et L’Histoire Naturelle (Online Fulltext)