Microphotography was one of the earliest applications of photography in science: The first monograph on tissue organization illustrated with microphotographs was published in 1845. In the 1860s, a large number of introductions to scientific microphotography were published by anatomists. They argued that microphotography was a means of documenting the results of microscopic analysis, uncontaminated by the subjectivity of the observer. In the early decades of the 19th century, before the general acceptance of cell theory, such a technique was of special (...) importance, as no criteria were available to distinguish between important and superficial characters in the description of tissue microstructures. Microphotography was praised as the method of choice for documenting the scientific observations of microscopic material. Some of the microphotographic practices described in these early manuals, however, did not conform with the idea of a purely mechanical process of documentation. The authors of these manuals saw photography not as a technique which produced artifacts, but as a complete and reliable substitute for the original preparations. Thus, according to these authors, the artificial world of photography was seen as the actual representation of the microworld. Consequently, they tried to understand the microcosm by analyzing photographs instead of the microscopic preparation themselves. Such attitudes discredited the use of microphotography in the sciences. Consequently, the definitive breakthrough of scientific microphotography was delayed until the 1880s and was largely due to the efforts of Robert Koch, who made microphotography a central tool of bacteriology. (shrink)
The controversy of neuroanatomy on the principal structure of the nervous systems, which took place at the end of the nineteenth century, is described. Two groups of scientists are identified: one that favoured the idea of a discrete cellular organization of the nervous tissue, and one that favoured a syncytial organization. These two interpretations arose from different histological techniques that produced conflicting pictures of the organization of the nervous tissue. In an experimental reexamination of the techniques used at the end (...) of the nineteenth century, the present study concerns the impact of these different histological procedures on the controversy about the principle nature of the nervous tissue. This controversy could not be resolved by neuroanatomy itself until the 1950s when electron microscopy was introduced into neurobiology. Thus, in a critical period of the conceptual development of neurosciences, neuroanatomy failed to establish a proper base for an interpretation of the functional morphology of nervous tissues. (shrink)
Although Lorenz Oken is a classic example of Naturphilosophie as applied to biology, his views have been imperfectly understood. He is best viewed as a follower of Schelling who consistently attempted to apply Schelling's ideas to biological data. His version of Naturphilosophie, however, was strongly influenced by older pseudoscience traditions, especially alchemy and numerology as they had been presented by Robert Fludd, whose works were current in Jena and available to him. According to those influences, parts of Oken's philosophical conception (...) were communicable even in a non-idealistic scientific culture, for example in Paris, where Oken met Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Geoffroy however was embedded in a French intellectual tradition, and the correspondence between his views and those of Oken was only superficial. The English anatomist Richard Owen attempted to incorporate the views of Oken and Geoffroy within his own, idiosyncratic system. Although Darwin knew of Oken's ideas, it was Geoffroy who really affected his evolutionary biology, and any influence of Oken must have been attenuated to the point of triviality. (shrink)
The paper describes the first attempts of biological electron microphotography. It starts with a description of the early use of electron microscopy in biology, showing that electron microscopy was used as an extension of former light microscopical studies. Thus, the pictures produced by electron microscopy are interpreted as describing the micro-texture of those structures already seen in light microscopy. That was done irrespective from the specific problems of tissue preparation for electron microscopy. The use of photography in electron microscopy is (...) discussed in more detail. It is shown that in electron microscopy, the microphotography provides the data base for the observing scientist, not the preparation itself which is usually destroyed or damaged during observation in the electron microscope. Thus, biological electron microscopy can be described to be a real image science. (shrink)
In his study on 'schelling's and hegel's verhaltnis zur naturwissenschaft' of 1844 m j schleiden, one of the leading biologists of that time, opposed the speculative idealism. his work marks the change of the german biology to a science that is founded on materialistic assumptions. it gives the essence of a discussion that is not only interesting in a historical perspective but accentuated an ongoing controversy.
The ‚Naturforschende Gesellschaft’, founded in 1793, proved instrumental for the development of science at the University of Jena around 1800. Its library can be considered as one of its most important facilities provided for research and for the education of students. Since this library has been preserved almost without losses, we can ask whether this library served the purpose of a research library in the newly established field of ‚science’. In consequence, the role of scientific societies and the genesis of (...) specialised libraries in the area of science can be investigated in an exemplary case, with implications for the concept of scientific research around 1800. (shrink)
In 1889 the Kiel plancton expedition started to perform the first quantitative analysis in marine ecology. The methods performed by this expedition caused an extensive discussion about the suitability of quantitative methods in a study of biological organizations. This discussion outlined the theoretical differences between the two main German schools in zoology: the descriptive morphology as performed by Ernst Haeckel and the analytical physiology as initiated by Emil DuBois-Reymond. The present study describes the positions of both, the morphology and the (...) physiology, one the one hand, to analyze the theoretical background of the new formed ecological science, and on the other hand, to outline some aspects of the principal situation of the German biology in the late 19th century. These more principal aspects are so more of interest as the discussion initiated by the Kiel plancton expedition extended to a controversy about the theoretical value of the theory of evolution. Implications for the theoretical basis of recent ecology are discussed. (shrink)
Following the concept of internal representations, signal processing in a neuronal system has to be evaluated exclusively on the basis of internal system characteristics. Thus, this approach omits the external observer as a control function for sensory integration. Instead, the configuration of the system and its computational performance are the effects of endogeneous factors. Such self-referential operation is due to a strictly local computation in a network. Thereby, computations follow a set of rules that constitutes the emergent behaviour of the (...) system. Because these rules can be demonstrated to correspond to a "logic" intrinsic to the system, it can be shown that the concept of internal representation provides the basis for neurosemantics. (shrink)