The emergence of cardiovascular diseases from stress, i.e. psychosocial pressure, was a constitutive element in the international medical discourse of the 1960s and 1970s. This article describes an East German variant of the stress discourse, developed by Rudolf Baumann and his associates at the Institute for cortico-visceral pathology and therapy in Berlin-Buch. The group sought to develop a genuinely materialist approach to the problem of psychosocially caused diseases, as well as ways of therapy and prevention suited to a socialist health system. At the same time, it was constantly drawing on Western concepts and practices. By examining this project in international context, congruences and differences between Eastern and Western perceptions of the stressful effects of industrial society are worked out. Furthermore, the article discusses that the concept of stress implied ambitious programs for social prevention and therapy, the realization of which in both political systems was constrained by the social reality.
This article sheds new light on the disastrous event of St Mary Magdalene's Flood in Central Europe in 1342, which scholars have thus far largely neglected, by examining administrative documents like charters and accounts for the first time, while also considering scientific proxy data like precipitation reconstructions based on tree rings. The result is a much more nuanced reconstruction of these two years that included extreme flooding (in February and July 1342 and July 1343), but also pronounced dryness in spring 1342, which might explain the extreme erosion events geomorphologists attribute to the strong precipitation of these years. The events of 1342/43 are a good example of how a pre-modern, multi-factorial compound event could have disastrous consequences when natural extreme events and disadvantageous socio-economic conditions coincided. Examining a wider variety of written sources reveals that the supra-regional dearth and famine in Central Europe was linked to the fact that the flood occured before grain could be harvested in 1342. Furthermore, the article focuses on infrastructural adaptions like changes in bridge design or large water-infrastructures, as well as on normative reactions at a regional or local level that can be understood, at least partially, to have been caused by the flood disaster. These processes of technological and normative adaption can be understood, on the one hand, as second-order-perceptions of nature in Luhmann's sense; on the other hand, they illustrate the importance of natural extreme events as a catalyst for pre-modern development of infrastruture. In the aftermath of 1342/43, areas to the north of the Alps implemented flood-protection measures to protect the public welfare for the first time, at least such initiatives that went beyond local responses to involve regional and supra-regional powers up to and including the Holy Roman Emperor.
Around 1900, one of the last major challenges in the exploration of the Earth was to map the largely untouched continent of Antarctica. Many nations participated in this endeavour, including the German Empire, which launched two expeditions before World War One: Erich von Drygalski led the first German expedition to Antarctica between 1901 and 1903 and Wilhelm Filchner led the second in 1911 through 1912. Recent literature has, for the most part, described the relationship between the expeditions of the different nations as having been focused on either cooperation or rivalry. This paper argues, however, that a strained simultaneity of international cooperation and rivalry characterized the German Antarctic expeditions. From the outset of their expeditions, the historical actors employed both modes of interaction. In their rhetoric, they referred to them as argumentative resources, and they chose their course of action following the logic of cooperation or competition, depending on the particular circumstances. The actors took pains, however, to keep a balance between the two modes of interaction in order to be able to benefit from advantages arising both from competition and cooperation. They also ensured that the rules of competition were loosely enough defined to allow them some leeway. When it came to a retrospective evaluation of the expeditions by the German public, it became clear, though, that their strategy had not been successful: neither the actors' praise for the cooperation between nations, nor the emphasis they placed on their scientific achievements was able to change the public's perception in imperial Germany that these two expeditions had been failures in the struggle to reach latitudes as southern as possible.
The Dutch animal psychologist Frederik J. J. Buytendijk (1887-1974) developed an anti-reductionist approach in his ethological research of the 1920s and 1930s distinct from behaviorism, explicitly including in his experimental practices the freedom of animals, variable observations, and the subjective experience of the investigator. Buytendijk thereby developed a scientific theory that methodologically relied on phenomenology, hermeneutics, and concepts of unity based on gestalt theory, but did not abandon quantitative data collection. On the contrary, in his Groningen institute Buytendijk based his work on the biological theories of Jakob von Uexkull and specifically investigated the thesis of an "animal-environment unit". Using this institutional framework and two experiments (1924 & 1931), this article determines to what extent Buytendijk was able to verify his statement that the animal was "born with and in its environment", which at the same time supported his scientific-philosophical concept. Accordingly, Buytendijk understood the environment as an organ of the animal, not only as a metaphor, but also as reality.
The Greenough stereomicroscope, or “Stemi” as it is colloquially known among microscopists, is a stereoscopic binocular instrument yielding three-dimensional depth perception when working with larger microscopic specimens. It has become ubiquitous in laboratory practice since its introduction by the unknown scientist Horatio Saltonstall Greenough in 1892. However, because it enabled new experimental practices rather than new knowledge, it has largely eluded historical and epistemological investigation, even though its design, production, and reception in the scientific community was inextricably connected to the new epistemological ideals of the life sciences caught between natural history and modern science. The development of the microscope will be contextualized within the scientific and technological landscape, showing how Greenough navigated his way through this terrain, and what led him to sow the seeds for the stereoscopic microscope. The historical controversy over the optical mechanism, through which the instrument would generate the desired depth perception, and how this quality was embedded into laboratory practice, will be examined. Subsequently, it will become evident that the specific image of nature produced by the stereoscopic microscope corresponded to the new ideals of the life sciences and their representation.Das Greenough Stereomikroskop, gemeinhin bekannt als „Stemi“, ist ein stereoskopisches binokulares Laborinstrument, das die Beobachtung größerer mikroskopischer Organismen lebensecht in drei Dimensionen ermöglicht. Seit seiner Einführung durch den damals wie heute wenig bekannten Wissenschaftler Horatio Saltonstall Greenough im Jahre 1892 ist es in der Laborpraxis allgegenwärtig geworden. Da das Instrument jedoch in erster Linie weniger neue Einsichten als vielmehr neue Praktiken ermöglichte, hat es sich seither historisch-epistemologischer Einbettung entzogen, und dies, obwohl die Entwicklung, Produktion und Rezeption des Stereomikroskops in der wissenschaftlichen Gemeinschaft untrennbar mit den neuen epistemologischen Idealen der Lebenswissenschaften im Spannungsfeld zwischen Naturgeschichte und moderner Wissenschaft verbunden ist. Im Folgenden wird die Entwicklung des Mikroskops in den lebenswissenschaftlichen und technologischen Diskursfeldern kontextualisiert und nachgezeichnet, welchen Weg sich Greenough durch diese wissenschaftliche Landschaft gebahnt hat. Die historische Kontroverse über den optischen Mechanismus, durch den das Instrument Tiefenwahrnehmung generieren sollte, wird aufgearbeitet. Anschließend wird der Frage nachgegangen, wie sich diese spezielle Visualität in den ersten Jahren des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts in der lebenswissenschaftlichen Laborpraxis etabliert hat. Dabei wird deutlich, dass das lebensnahe Bild der Natur, welches das Stereomikroskop Wissenschaftler*innen bot, den neuen Idealen der Lebenswissenschaften und seiner Repräsentation entsprach.
This article introduces to a wider public a hitherto unknown report written by the “Romantic” natural philosopher and mineralogist Henrik Steffens (1773–1845). In the 1811 report Ideas on Medical Meteorology, commissioned by the Prussian Ministry of the Interior via the physician Johann Christian Reil (1759–1813), Steffens argued for a new, “organic” perspective on meteorology focusing on interrelations between the atmosphere and diseases among humans and animals. This new outlook, he argued, was to be realized via a series of observations directed by the state administration. Excerpts from the report are translated and commented upon in order to illuminate their context. These show the report to be part of a significantly older European tradition of inquiry into the connection between changes in the atmosphere and health. A speculative variation of this tradition, for which the general term “Organic Meteorology” is introduced here, was ignited in German-speaking regions through Schelling’s natural philosophy. The report and its context show that the Prussian state was willing to engage with “Romantic” natural philosophy, that Steffens gladly provided expertise for this purpose, and that this was part of a more general effort to professionalize medicine.Dieser Artikel stellt ein bisher unbekanntes Gutachten des “romantischen” Naturphilosophen und Mineralogen Henrik Steffens (1773–1845) vor. In dessen Ideen über die medicinische Meteorologie, die – vermittelt durch Johann Christian Reil (1759–1813) – vom Preußischen Innenministerium in Auftrag gegeben worden waren, argumentierte Steffens für eine neue, „organische“ Perspektive auf die Meteorologie. Diese sollte die Beziehungen zwischen der Atmosphäre und Krankheiten unter Menschen und Tieren in den Blick nehmen. In Form einer Beobachtungsreihe, schlug er vor, sollte sie innerhalb der Strukturen des preußischen Innenministeriums umgesetzt werden. Exzerpte aus dem Gutachten sind übersetzt und kommentiert worden, um deren Kontext zu beleuchten. Diese zeigen, dass das Gutachten Teil einer deutlich älteren europäischen Wissenstradition war, die sich mit der Verbindung zwischen Änderungen in der Atmosphäre und Gesundheit befasste. Eine spekulative Variante dieser Tradition, für die hier der umfassendere Begriff “organische Meteorologie” eingeführt wird, wurde durch Schellings Naturphilosophie im deutschsprachigen Raum neu befeuert. Das Gutachten und sein Kontext beweisen, dass der preußische Staat die Expertise eines “romantischen” Naturforschers nutzte, dass Steffens diese bereitwillig zur Verfügung stellte und dieser Vorgang Teil eines umfassenderen Professionalisierungsstrebens in der Medizin war.
In 2000, when atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen and limnologist Eugene F. Stoermer proposed to introduce a new geological era, the Anthropocene, they could not have foreseen the remarkable career of the new term. Within a few years, the geological community began to investigate the scientific evidence for the concept and established the Anthropocene Working Group. While the Working Group has started to examine possible markers and periodizations of the new epoch, scholars from numerous other disciplines have taken up the Anthropocene as a cultural concept. In addition, the media have developed a deep interest in the Anthropocene’s broader societal ramifications. The article sheds light on the controversial debate about the Anthropocene and discusses its inextricably linked dual careers, first as a geological term and second as a cultural term. Third, it argues that the debate about the “Age of Humans” is a timely opportunity both to rethink the nature-culture relation and to re-assess the narratives that historians of science, technology, and the environment have written until now. Specifically, it examines both the heuristic and analytical power of the concept. It discusses new histories, new ideas to understand historical change, and new temporalities shaped by scholars who have taken up the challenge of the Anthropocene as a cultural concept that has the ability to question established stories and narratives. Fourth, it ends by stressing the potential of the Anthropocene concept to blur established epistemological boundaries and to stimulate cross-disciplinary collaborations between the sciences and the humanities.Als Paul Crutzen und Eugene Stoermer im Jahr den Begriff des Anthropozäns erstmals in die Debatte brachten, konnten sie nicht wissen, welche rasante Karriere dieser machen würden. Nur wenige Jahre später begannen die Geowissenschaften, die wissenschaftliche Evidenz des Konzepts zu erforschen und richteten die Anthropocene Working Group ein. Während die Arbeitsgruppe mögliche Marker und Anfänge der neuen geowissenschaftlichen Epoche untersucht, verstehen Vertreter zahlreicher geisteswissenschaftlicher Disziplinen das Anthropozän vor allem als kulturelles Konzept, an dessen gesellschaftlichen Auswirkungen die Medien ein breites Interesse entwickelt haben. Der Beitrag beleuchtet die kontroverse Debatte über das Anthropozän und diskutiert dessen unauflöslich verflochtene Doppelkarriere erstens als geologischer und zweitens als kultureller Begriff. Drittens versteht er die Debatte um das „Zeitalter des Menschen“ als willkommene Gelegenheit, das Verhältnis von Natur und Kultur neu zu bestimmen und etablierte Erzählungen der Wissenschafts-, Technik- und Umweltgeschichte auf den Prüfstand zu stellen, wobei insbesondere das heuristische und analytische Potential des Konzepts geprüft werden soll. Er präsentiert neue Geschichten, neue Ideen zum Verständnis historischen Wandels und neue Temporalitäten, die aus der Beschäftigung mit dem Anthropozän als kulturelles Konzept, das etablierte Narrative kritisch hinterfragt, entstanden sind. Viertens schließlich diskutiert er das Anthropozän als Katalysator für eine, die Grenzen zwischen Natur- und Geisteswissenschaften sprengende, inter- und transdisziplinäre Forschung.
The GDR was an ecological failed state in 1989/90. But while public input and critical environmental groups protested more openly against environmental problems during the 1980s, the established sciences remained strangely mute and appeared unable to develop appropriate approaches to solving the environmental crisis. Almost 20years earlier, however, an environmental policy departure that was largely supported by scientific reform initiatives had begun in the GDR. The inclusion of the concept of conserving nature and the environment in the 1968 constitution and the adoption of the land improvement law two years later were the expression of asocio-political consensus on the environmental issue.How can this sharp discrepancy be explained? The article investigates the influence of scientific environmental concepts on the departure in environmental policy in the GDR. The example of scientific nature conservation, which had been institutionally anchored in the German Academy of Agricultural Sciences since 1951, shows that conservationists underwent aperiod of normalization in the 1950s, which was an essential prerequisite for giving their concerns political legitimacy. This forced adaptation process not only influenced the concepts and goals of East German nature conservation, rather also opened up participatory opportunities for its protagonists.The essay argues for areassessment of East German environmental history, which so far has only been considered from the perspective of how it ended. Furthermore, it is argued that the conceptual concept of the participatory dictatorship (Fulbrook) should be applied to the history of science in the GDR in order to expand existing approaches.
Johannes de Sacrobosco's (c.1195-c.1256) On the Sphere, ashort introduction into qualitative cosmology written in the thirteenth century, was the most widely used textbook on cosmology in the early-modern period, being reprinted, re-edited or commented over 320 times. While the reception and circulation of this work in the sixteenth and seventeenth century is well known, one fact has so far escaped the notice of scholars: Sphaera textbooks were subject to several acts of ecclesiastical censorship in the early modern period, even though the content of this work promoted acosmology that opposed the allegedly heretical implications of Copernicanism. This paper investigates for the very first time the dynamics and motives behind Roman and Iberian censorship in relation to this cosmology treatise. Editions and commentaries published by Protestants were generally regarded as suspect, but rarely prohibited across-the-board. Instead, they were usually approved for scientific use after expurgations had removed problematic theological passages. However, the commentary (1550) authored by the Catholic Mauro da Firenze (1493-1556) was prohibited repeatedly and completely because it contained theologically dangerous ideas. The case studies presented in this paper shall shed light on the dynamics of knowledge within the Sphere tradition from anew perspective, that of the Catholic censorship of books. Moreover, alongitudinal study based on aspecific genre of books provides insight into the ideology and practices of early modern catholic book censorship, whereby the well-known problematic relationship between science and religion in the pre-modern period is seen in the context of aconfessionalisation of science.