It is dealt with the methodological parallels between Kant's concept of a history of nature (i.e., his distinction between "Naturgeschichte" and "Naturbeschreibung") and the distinction between "Geognosie" and "Oryktognosie" by the German mineralogist A G Werner (1749-1817). By relating those parallels to the introduction of Kant's "Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science", the paper shows some scarcely considered scientific roots of his epistemology.
Toward the end of the 18th century, the Scottish geologist James Hall carried out a series of experiments. They were designed to explore the genesis of rock formations in connection with the controversy between “neptunism” and “volcanism”. These experiments are documented in a museum collection that is located today in the British Geological Survey headquarters in Keyworth near Nottingham. The collection consists of ca. 250–300 individual items and includes samples of Hall's experiments and experimental equipment, as well as several of (...) the original rock specimens that had belonged to him. This article provides a short description of that collection. (shrink)
Visualization in 19th-century German geography: Robert Schlagintweit and Hans Meyer as examples. – Visual representations of nature formed an essential part of 19th-century earth sciences. In particular, colonial photography – as a visual source, and as an instrument of the construction of national identities – serves essential research interests of current history and social sciences. The present paper is a case study on the role and function of photography in German geography of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It focuses (...) on the work of the Munich geographer Robert Schlagintweit and the Leipzig colonial geographer Hans Meyer ; the early history of photography in India and the function of images in the geographical exploration of overseas territories are discussed. Although there is nearly half a century between the work of R. Schlagintweit and H. Meyer, their photography shows remarkable parallels. The ideas of both on the practice of visualization are rooted in pedagogic and didactic concepts as well as in popular science. For both geographers photography was essentially a technical help, which often needed graphic revisions. And they both preferred photography to depict people and buildings . Concerning the more comprehensive question of how far their photography transmitted a specific German ‘image of abroad’, it is indicated that such a specific image should have its essential roots in a peculiar visual culture of German earth sciences in the first half of the 19th century. Thus the paper offers a starting point for further studies discussing the change from a ‘Biedermeier image’ of foreign cultures to a more ‘colonial’ one in 19th-century German geography. (shrink)