Dějiny věd a techniky, No. 4, Vol. L (2017)


DVT 174, 226
Vzestup a pád německé biologie. Zamyšlení o povaze, myšlenkových a společenských konsekvencích kontinentální tzv. autonomistické biologie v moderní době
Stanislav Komárek

The Rise and Fall of German Biology. Considerations upon the Character, Intellectual, and Social Impact of Continental Autonomistic Biology in the Modern Era
In this work, the author uses an essayistic approach to analyse the impact of biology within the German cultural sphere in approximately 1780–1945. The main focus is on that part of biology’s roots and specific features which through the prism of subsequent scientific and cultural development appear to constitute a ‘side line’, although they contain many inspiring ideas and thoughts.

Keywords: History of biology ● Naturphilosophy ● German autonomistschool ● Adolf Portmann

Despite the widespread conviction that science is ‘transnational’ and ‘absolutely objective’, the language in which it expresses itself has an impact on its substance. Science is influenced and shaped by the historical, cultural, and philosophical environment prevalent within the cultural and linguistic sphere in which it is practiced. An especially good example of this phenomenon is German biology of approximately 1780–1945 (and sporadically until the 1970s), which subsequent historical and cultural development had ultimately relegated to the sidelines of international biological thinking. It does, however, contain many interesting and inspiring ideas which are hard to express or even hard to conceive of within ‘Anglo-Saxon’ biology. The author examines the roots and causes of this development.

Author’s address:
Přírodovědecká fakulta UK
Katedra filosofie a dějin přírodních věd
Viničná 7
CZ–128 43 Praha 2


DVT 174, 234
Algologie a protistologie na Německé univerzitě v Praze v meziválečném období I. Adolf Pascher a jeho odkaz
Jiří Neustupa

Algology and protistology at the German University in Prague in the inter-war period, I. Adolf Pascher and his legacy.
The study focuses on the life and work of Adolf Pascher, one of the most prominent phycologists and protistologists of the 20th century. Almost for his entire life Pascher worked at the German University in Prague. Since 1933 he wasthe director of the Botanical Institute and Botanical Garden of the Faculty of Science. Present study illustrates Pascher’s career and shows that his studies was largely based in application of Haeckels biogenetic rule to microorganisms and algae. Finally, Pascher’s work and life in times of the Third Reich, as well as later significance of his studies are discussed.

Key words: Adolf Pascher ● German University in Prague ● history of biology ● algology

Plant biology at the German University in Prague in the inter-war period focused mainly on research topics involving microorganisms, especially the microscopic algae. The reason for this is that for most of this period the two plant biology institutes at the Faculty of Science, Botanical Institute and Institute for Plant Physiology, had directors whose research interests centred around these topics. In addition, both Adolf Pascher (1881–1945) and Ernst Georg Pringsheim (1881–1970), were outstanding personalities and are nowadays considered among the founding fathers of modern protistology and phycology. The present study mostly focuses on the life and work of Adolf Pascher, whose entire scientific life and career were connected with the German University in Prague. He entered the university in 1900 as a young student of biology and he never worked at any other institution. He died in May 1945 on the very premises of the Botanical Institute. His most importantstudies were focused on systematics and evolution of the microscopic algae. Pascher created a very complex, formal system illustrating the evolutionary progression of microorganisms and algae based on transition among individual organisational stages of their cells and thalli. Due to Pascher’s influence this system dominated phycological systematics well into the 1980s despite the fact that his conception had been shown to be fundamentally non- Darwinian, as it is largely based on structuralistic and Naturphilosophic ideas. The application of Haeckel’s biogenetic rule of repetition of individual evolutionary stages in the ontogenesis of different species is one of the prime examples of his conception.

Author’s address:
Přírodovědecká fakulta UK, Katedra botaniky
Benátská 2
CZ-128 43 Praha 2

DVT 174, 259
Za republiku a demokracii: Karel Weigner mezi zednáři a eugeniky
Rudolf Kardoš – Jan Musil

For republic and democracy: Karel Weigner between freemasons and eugenicists.
The Czechoslovak physician Karel Weigner was an important representative of scientific, academic and social life of the interwar period. The authors of the text focus above all on his long-term activities among the freemasons and interconnect them with Weigner’s work for the Czech Academy of Art and Sciences. In this scientific institution, Weigner helped to publish an anthology on equality of European races and therefore stood alongside (although only temporarily) scientists engaged in the eugenics movement. Weigner influenced the life of this private (crypto)intellectual movement, as well as the life of the scientific institution by his concept of the role and task of elitesin the society. He understood thisrole as a support of the young democratic state. The researchers also point to places in Weigner’s texts where he repeatedly gives priority to the benefit of the society over the rights of an individual and therefore understands a human in an instrumental way as an object of care and scientific supervision. The paternalism and collectivism of the period, typical for the medical and eugenic environment, influences through Weigner also the Czech freemasons.

Keywords: Karel Weigner ● freemasonry ● eugenics ● antiracism ● interwar Czechoslovakia

The aim of the text is to research unexplored parts of Weigner’s activities in the scientific and social life in Czechoslovakia of interwar period. The text is divided into three parts. The first part describes Weigner’s work among the freemasons. The second, main part researches the genesis of an anthology called Rovnocennost evropských plemen a cesty k jejich zušlechťování (Equality of European races and ways of their cultivation), whose publication by the Czech Academy of Art and Sciences was supported by Weigner. In the third part, the authors try to put Weigner’s activities to a broader historical context. To this purpose, they researched published, but above all archive documents of the period. Their research relies on contemporary studies of freemasonry and eugenics movement.

Authors’ addresses:
Jan Musil
Katedra politologie a filozofie FF UJEP
Pasteurova 13, 400 96 Ústí nad Labem

Rudolf Kardoš
Katedra historie FF UJEP
Pasteurova 13, 400 96 Ústí nad Labem

Back to Top ↑