Aug 26, 2010

Frequently cited in the literature as the ‘Father of Scientific Anthropology’, the comparative anatomist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach played a formative role in establishing anthropology as a scientific discipline in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Formally a professor of medicine at the University of Göttingen in the German Duchy of Hannover, his career as an academic spanned a remarkably long and productive six decades between 1776 to his retirement in 1835.

It was a time that witnessed anthropology’s rise from the Enlightenment’s more humanistic and philosophical orientation in the study of man to a more directed scientific approach in establishing it as a separate branch of study. In the German-speaking lands in particular, a concerted effort among a relatively large and varied group of thinkers emerged to ground the study of man on firmer scientific principles, with numerous books related to anthropology appearing at this time. This purposive and deliberate shift away from speculative philosophy in the emerging science of man was a gradual one that began around the time of the publication of Ernst Platner’s Anthropologie für Aerzte und Weltweise (Anthropology for Physicians and Sages) in 1772, and would continue on through to the founding of the first anthropological societies in the 1830s and 1840s.

Very complete and interesting site about Blumenbach and History of Anthropology

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