From Practice to Theory: Karl Möbius and the <i>Lebensgemeinschaft</i>

in Modern Nature

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226610894
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226610924 | DOI:
From Practice to Theory: Karl Möbius and the Lebensgemeinschaft

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This chapter turns to a different figure whose ideas and career were central to the rise of the biological perspective: Karl Möbius. Möbius was the man who transformed the broad, undertheorized ecological, environmentalist, and functionalist ideas of the practical naturalists into scientific theory. He developed the concept of the Lebensgemeinschaft, or living (biotic) community. Möbius' chief scientific project for the decade between 1859 and 1868 revolved around the fauna of the Kiel Fjord. In researching the fauna of the Kiel Fjord, Möbius had found a field that yielded a rich harvest for both generalist and specialist writings, allowing him to satisfy both his local audience in Hamburg and the scholarly community in which he also sought to make a name. Möbius' community concept did not simply jump into public consciousness. Its broad resonances came to be heard only as he and his followers promoted it over the next thirty years.

Keywords: Karl Möbius; Lebensgemeinschaft; Kiel Fjord; fauna; Hamburg

Chapter.  14180 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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