Jacob Moleschott

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Moleschott, Jacob


Born Aug. 9, 1822, in ’s Hertogen-bosch, the Netherlands; died May 20, 1893, in Rome. German physiologist and philosopher. Exponent of vulgar materialism.

Moleschott studied medicine and physiology at the University of Heidelberg, where he taught from 1847. In the early 1850’s he was persecuted for advocating materialism and atheism, and he moved to Switzerland, settling in Italy in the 1860’s. Moleschott was a professor in Zurich (from 1856), Turin (from 1861), and Rome (from 1879).

In effect, Moleschott identified philosophy with natural science; he regarded thought as only a physiological mechanism. According to Moleschott, all psychological and intellectual processes have a material and physiological basis and depend, in particular, on the nature of food, its composition, and the like. Moleschott’s views had a certain influence on Italian scientists, including C. Lombroso; D. I. Pisarev sympathized with these views. Moleschott’s vulgar materialism was criticized by Feuer-bach, Marx, and Engels. His biochemical research was important for the development of physiological chemistry.


Fur meine Freunde: Lebens-Erinnerungen. Giessen, 1894.
In Russian translation:
Estestvoznanie i meditsina. St. Petersburg, 1865.
Fiziologicheskie eskizy. Moscow, 1863.
Vrashchenie zhizni v prirode. St. Petersburg-Moscow, 1867.
Prichiny i deistviia v uchenii o zhizni. Moscow, 1868.
Uchenie o pishche, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1868.


Janet, P. Sovremennyi materializm. Moscow, 1867. (Translated from French.)
Taganskii, G.“Vul’garnyi materializm tret’ei chetverti XIX v. i sovremennye mekhanisty.” In the collection Iz istorii filosofii XIX v. [Moscow] 1933.
lushmanov, N.“Obshchestvenno-politicheskie vzgliady vul’garnykh materialistov.” Ibid.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.