Johann Blumenbach

Johann BlumenbachIn existographies, Johann Blumenbach (1752-1840) (CR:13) was German physician and natural philosopher, noted for []

In 1781, Blumenbach, in his On the Formative Drive of the Generation Process, posited the existence of a "bildungstrieb" or "formational drive" in human development, a term that united growth, maintenance, healing, regeneration, and reproduction as variations of the single goal of maintaining form. [1] A representative exert of this position is: [2]

“In all living creatures from the human to the maggot and from the cedar up to the seed there lies a particular, inborn, effective drive active throughout life, first in order to attain their specific form, then to maintain it, and if it is destroyed, to restore it where possible.”

Blumenbach’s inborn drive theory, supposedly, is the start, origin, or precursor, in some respects, to supposedly both the Goethe drive theory (1809) (e.g. see: EA | IAD: Love theories, and Freud-Schiller drive theory (1910)).

Goethe’s circle | 1803
Goethe read or reread Blumenbach, according to Elaine Miller, after noticing a reference to it in Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment. [4] The following could be the passage in question:

“That crude matter should have originally formed itself according to mechanical laws, that life should have sprung from the nature of what is lifeless, that matter should have been able to dispose itself into the form of a self-maintaining purposiveness — this [Blumenbach] rightly declares to be contradictory to reason.”
Immanuel Kant (1790), Critique of Judgment; cited by Lawrence Henderson (1917) [5]

Blumenbach, shown seated below left (purple jacket), with his back turned, talking to German writer Heinrich Kleist (1777-1811), in Weimar, Germany, in 1803, was part of “Goethe’s circle”, one of the rare epicenter genius aggregations known to history. [3]

Quotes | On
The following are quotes on Blumenbach:

Blumenbach observed in 1775 that ‘innumerable varieties of mankind run into each other by insensible degrees’. In 1776, he was named professor of medicine at the University of Gottingen, where he began his research into the varieties of human beings. He was the first to propose a division of humanity into five races: Caucasian, Ethiopian, American, Mongolian, and Malay; it was in fact Blumenbach who first used the term Caucasian (derived from the residents of Georgia in the Caucasus Mountains) to describe the white race. His most important works are the Collectio craniorum diversarum gentium illustrata (1790-1828) and On the Natural Variety of Mankind (1795).”
— Stuart Curran (2012), “Contexts (Ѻ) to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: the Modern Prometheus (Ѻ) | Science: Biology: Evolution (Ѻ)”, University of Pennsylvania [6]

Quotes | By
The following are quotes by Blumenbach:

“I long ago pointed out considerations against the reality of the structural conceptions of the gradation of creatures according to their mere exterior form, and against the very well meant, but at the bottom very presumptuous tendency towards this idea, which is found in many physico-theologians; and these are entirely empirical, taken from natural history itself, and from the visible constraint which, in all the various essays on such gradations, is done to nature. Who does not feel how constrained he is when Bradley carries up his scale from the simplest fossils through the vegetable kingdom and animal kingdom up to man? It must be understood that all that has been said here…on the use of petrifications is only to be regarded as a warning against the misuse of the common conception of gradation, according to the outward form of creatures under the favorite images of ladders and links…Only instead of the partisans of this gradation acknowledging its value in dividing the productions of nature into kingdoms, classes, etc., and as a means of methodizing study and an assistance to memory, but allowing that it has no real existence in nature itself; exactly the opposite seems to have come of those structural conceptions, whose unmistakable value for the science of method cannot be denied, but which are so very far from having any real ground in nature itself, that it has often happened to well-meaning physico-theologians.”
— Johann Blumenbach (1806), Publication [7]

1. Engelstein, Stefani. (2008). Anxious Anatomy: the Conception of the Human Form in Literary and Naturalist Discourse (pg. 13; §1: Formative Drives, pgs. 23-58). SUNY Press.
2. Blumenbach, Johann. (1781). On the Formative Drive of the Generation Process (Uber den Bildungstieb und das Zeugungsgeschafte) (pg. 12; Stefani Engelstein translation). Gottingen: Johann Dieterich.
3. Heinrich von Kleist – Wikipedia.
4. Miller, Elaine. (2012). The Vegetative Soul: From Philosophy of Nature to Subjectivity in the Feminine (pgs. 63). SUNY Press.
5. (a) Kant, Immanuel. (1790). Critique of Judgment (pgs. 345-46). Bernard, 1892.
(b) Henderson, Lawrence J. (1917). The Order of Nature. Harvard University Press.
6. Curran, Stuart. (2012), “Contexts (Ѻ) to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: the Modern Prometheus (Ѻ) | Science: Biology: Evolution (Ѻ)”, University of Pennsylvania.
7. Anon. (c.2015). “The Great Chain of Being” (Ѻ), SUNY Orange.

External links
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach – Wikipedia.

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