Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

(redirected from Blumenbach)
Also found in: Medical.

Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich

(yōhän` frē`drĭkh blo͞o`mənbäkh), 1752–1840, German naturalist and anthropologist. He introduced and developed the science of comparative anatomy in Germany. His De generis humani varietate nativa (1775; tr. On the Natural Varieties of Mankind, 1865, repr. 1969) marked the beginnings of physical anthropology and described the five divisions of mankind which have been the basis of all subsequent racial classifications. Blumenbach's analysis of an extensive skull collection, published as Collectio craniorum diversarum gentium (1790–1828), established craniometric study. English translations of his works include The Anthropological Treatises of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1865, repr. 1969).

Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich


Born May 11, 1752, in Gotha; died Jan. 1, 1840, in Göttingen. German anatomist, zoologist, and anthropologist; professor at Göttingen University (from 1778).

Blumenbach was one of the founders of modern anthropology and initiator of craniology, the study of human and animal skulls. He described five races of modern man and noted the existence of mixed races. He was the first to raise the question of the monophyletic origin of human races—that is, he regarded them as varieties of a single human species formed by climatic factors. He opposed the doctrine of preformation. In his attempts to explain the life processes and development of organisms he defended the vitalistic view, admitting the existence of an unknowable “formative striving.”


De generis humani varietate nativa, 2nd ed. Göttingen, 1781.
Über den Bildungstrieb. Gottingen, 1791.
Handbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie, 3rd ed. Göttingen, 1824.
In Russian translation:
Rukovodstvopo estestvennoi istorii, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1797.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
For Georges-Louis LeClerc de Buffon, johann Blumenbach and others, the traits they observed and were the basis for their classification were not original or eternal, but only superficial responses to climate.
The second refers to Whewell, Mill, Comte, Spencer, Dilthey, Schopenhauer, Darwin, Maxwell, Lagrange, Faraday, Mendel, Lyell, Hegel, Schelling, Lamarck, Burdach, Treviranus, Blumenbach, Girtanner, Meckel and many others in the space of thirty.
Rather than imitating the sciences, Herder and after him many other writers, philosophers, and scientists of his time--such as Goethe, Alexander von Humboldt, Lorenz Oken, Novalis, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, and Carl Gustav Carus--assumed that nature is an organic totality with an inner purpose or life force and attempted to integrate scientific knowledge into a universal human ethics.
Paul Hunter notes that these "German physiologists" also included, among others, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach.
Several researchers, including Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a German physician, who have avidly studied human skulls from around the globe, "share Buffon's view that the human species was truly unitary, while also agreeing with him that species could change internally" (p.
Blumenbach, Arthur Joseph de Gobineau, Josiah Nott, and Samuel Morton Smith, among others, along with the American and British Schools of Anthropology (Painter, 2010).
Earlier anthropologists, and notably Johann Blumenbach, were agreed that mankind consisted of a number of separate "families", of which Blumenbach counted five.
From the mid-1770s, the unstable varieties of Linnaeus's early human taxonomy had been rebadged as races by Kant and Blumenbach.
Painter's research is so finely tuned as to show that in 1775 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach applied the word "Caucasian" in his dissertation, in Latin, concerning the varieties of mankind--precisely the year in which the U.
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840) ascribed to organismal development a "formative" force he dubbed Bildungstrieb which roughly paralleled Kant's teleology.
history); see also JOHANN FRIEDRICH BLUMENBACH, ON THE NATURAL VARIETIES OF MANKIND 209, 264, 271 (1969) (1865) (setting out early anthropological thought on racial differences and likeness to monkeys).
Blumenbach advised him to use only part of them for submitting his thesis, and to analyze the former authors' works on the topic.