Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers

By Stuart Brown; Diané Collinson et al. | Go to book overview

U

Uexküll, Jakob Johann Baron von

Estonian-German, b: 8 September 1864, Keblas (Estland). d: 25 July 1944, Capri. Cat: Philosopher and methodologist of biology; zoologist. Ints: Animal behaviour; physiology; morphology; environment. Educ: Universities of Dorpat (Tartu) and Heidelberg. Infls: Literary influences: Kant, Goethe, Leibniz, Mendel and Cuvier. Personal: G. Kriszat and Hans Driesch. Appts: 1925-40, Honorary Professor and, from 1926, Director of the Institut für Umweltforschung, University of Hamburg.


Main publications:
(1909) Umwelt und Innerwelt, Berlin: J. Springer; second edition, 1921.
(1920) Theoretische Biologie, Berlin: J. Springer (English translation, Theoretical Biology, trans. D.L. Mackinnon, New York: Harcourt, 1926).
(1930) Die Lebenslehre, Potsdam: Muller & Kiepenheuer.

Secondary literature:
Cassirer, Ernst (1944) An Essay on Man, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 23ff.
-(1950) The Problem of Knowledge: Philosophy, Science and History Since Hegel, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 199-203.
Schubert-Soldern, R. (1962) Mechanism and Vitalism: Philosophical Aspects of Biology, London: Burns & Oats, pp. 175 ff.

Uexküll was primarily an anatomist, whose thinking was influenced by vitalism, by Cuvier's concept of 'anatomical type' and by Kant's transcendental philosophy. Although he held biology to be 'a purely natural science' (1930, 9), he nevertheless drew metaphysical conclusions and advanced a speculative theory of immaterial 'formal structure' (Bauplan) based on the pure relationships of geometry and stereometry.

Uexküll regarded life as irreducible to physico-chemical terms. According to him, every organism is a complex whole of interacting functions, whose nature may be inferred from its vital 'form' or 'stucture'. However, he stressed that the organism cannot be conceived in isolation from its environment (Umwelt). What constitutes the specific nature of an organism is the way in which, by virtue of its 'form', it receives stimuli from its world and transmutes them within itself. So every animal, including man, is perfectly fitted (eingepasst) to its environment.

Thus Uexküll repudiated the Darwinian idea of adaptation to environment: it is rather the 'form' of the animal which 'creates' the environment by its activity. This view presented an ingenious revision of the principles of biology by extending Kant's transcendentalism to animals. But its appeal to an immaterial vital 'form' as the key to biological science appears chimerical to the perspective of present-day biology. Uexküll's biological scheme greatly impressed Ernst Cassirer, who made use of it for a characterization of the human world (Cassirer 1944, p. 24).

Sources: Edwards; Brockhaus.

STEPHEN MOLLER


Ulken, H(ilmi) Ziya

Turkish, b: 1901, Istanbul, d: 5 June 1973, Istanbul. Cat: Muslim eclectic philosopher. Ints: Islamic philosophy; ethics. Educ: Istanbul University, 1918-21. Infls: Jalal al-din Rumi, Spinoza and Max Scheler. Appts: Geography teacher in high school; Professor of Philosophy, Istanbul University, 1944-71.


Main publications:
(1928) Felsefe Desleri [Lectures on Philosophy], Istanbul.
(1931) Ask Ahlak [The Ethic of Love], Istanbul.
(1941) Mant Tarihi [The History of Logic], Istanbul.
(1946) Ahlak [Ethics], Istanbul.
(1946) Islam Dusuncesi [Islamic Thought], Istanbul.
(1951) Tarihi Maddecilige Reddiye [The Refutation of Historical Materialism], Istanbul.
(1953) La Pensée de l'Islam, Istanbul.
(1954) Les Opuscules d'Avicenne, Istanbul.
(1957) Islam Felsefesi Tarihi [The History of Islamic Philosophy], Istanbul.
(1957-8) Felsefeye Giris [An Introduction to Philosophy], 2 vols, Ankara.

-795-

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Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • List of Abbreviated Sources xvi
  • List of Schools and Movements xxi
  • A 1
  • Main Publications: 19
  • Main Publications: 22
  • Main Publications: 24
  • Main Publications: 25
  • Main Publications: 29
  • B 41
  • Main Publications: 97
  • C - Cabral, Amilcar Lopes 119
  • Main Publications: 148
  • D 167
  • E 209
  • F 222
  • G 261
  • H 296
  • Main Publications: 323
  • Main Publications: 330
  • I 361
  • Main Publications: 365
  • J 370
  • Main Publications: 385
  • K 387
  • Main Publications: 405
  • Main Publications: 423
  • L 425
  • M 486
  • Main Publications: 491
  • Main Publications: 498
  • Main Publications: 540
  • N 558
  • Main Publications: 577
  • O 583
  • P 593
  • Main Publications: 605
  • Main Publications: 614
  • Main Publications: 626
  • Q 640
  • R 644
  • Main Publications: 657
  • S 690
  • Main Publications: 701
  • Main Publications: 704
  • T 764
  • U 795
  • V 800
  • W 817
  • Main Publications: 827
  • Main Publications: 833
  • Main Publications: 851
  • X 853
  • Y 857
  • Z 861
  • Guide to Schools and Movements 876
  • Bibliography 893
  • Nationality Index 903
  • Category Index 909
  • Index of Interests 918
  • Index of Influences 925
  • Index of People 936
  • Index of Subjects 945
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