The first graf naturalist Georges Buffon
“The doctrine without thinking is useless, but the reflection without study is dangerous”
Graf de Buffon first proposed the theory of the unity of flora and fauna. He was close to the king and received various incentives for the development of natural Sciences.
Years of study, travel and choice
Georges Buffon was born into a wealthy family of Burgundy landowner and Counsellor of the Parliament of Dijon, who gave his son a good education. At the end in 1726 Jesuit College in Dijon, where Buffon studied medicine and law, he spent two years he travelled in France and Italy, getting acquainted with the nature of these countries, visited England.
Sooner discovered mathematical ability and hot interest in science, Buffon read a lot of scientific and philosophical literature translated (translated into French “Theory of flux” Newton) and tended to a scientific career. Own notes and reports in mathematics and various issues of natural science, he was sent to the Paris Academy of Sciences, corresponding member of which was twenty-six years (1733 – Department of mechanics, 1739 in the Department of botany).
In 1739 the king appointed Buffon Manager of the Royal garden and the Cabinet of the king” (Museum) in Paris (later Botanical garden, national Museum of natural history). Buffon began vigorously to replenish natural science collections, receiving everywhere the skeletons of animals, drugs, herbal, minerals and other exhibits (from Russia delivered a mammoth tusks).
He was attracted to the work of scientists of different specialities and gradually turned the Botanical garden into a major research centre, which were subsequently linked Lavoisier, Lamarck, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Cuvier. The bouffon studied Zoology and other topics of natural history: he was preparing for the creation of a large General work, which was supposed to bring together all known modern science data about the living and inanimate nature.
A Grand composition Buffon started to come out in 1749 the first three volumes (“Theory of the Earth”) were devoted to the origins and Earth history, General information about the animals and man. Then came the stories about the four-legged (12 volumes), birds (9 volumes) and minerals (5 volumes), additional volumes, including “the Era of nature”; the 36th volume was released in the year of death of the author.
Unfinished history of snakes completed zoologist B. J. E. Leaped, he continued “Natural history” volumes on fishes and cetaceans (1799-1804). Invertebrates, which then knew little remained outside publications. In creating the enormous labour a significant role employees Buffon.
For example, a physician and anatomist L. Daubenton did the autopsy of animals (the Buffon did not like preparation) and in the first 15 volumes gave a comparative anatomical descriptions and drawings of 182 species of mammals. Many volunteers participated in the gathering and processing of materials about birds.
“Natural history” of Buffon in several volumes marked the beginning of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
The first volume “Natural history” was a huge success, until the end time of publication. Fun and colorful stories about the phenomena and objects of nature, original thoughts, witty hypothesis, accessible and vivid language, the raised tone all it had at the time and was very fond of readers from different layers of society.
The first scientific work was so hot interest, became known to a wider public. “Natural history” was repeatedly published in whole or in part, has been translated into many languages and made Buffon one of the most famous figures of the century European Enlightenment.
Nature is continuous and uniform in its development
The basis of his work Buffon put a number of ideas of a General nature, first of all, the idea of the historical development of nature. In the “Theory of the Earth” (1749) and the Epochs of nature” (1778) he, based on notions of continuity of matter and motion, outlined his views on the origin and geological history of the Earth.
According to Buffon, the Earth and other planets – the Sun fragments, separated at the drop of a comet on its surface. In the history of the Earth scientist has identified seven periods during which there was a slow cooling of the planet, the formation of rocks, the emergence retreated from the world ocean land (the fourth period), the occurrence of plants and animals (fifth period), the disintegration of the primitive continent (sixth period) and the emergence of man (seventh period).
Museum of natural history under the leadership of Buffon has expanded considerably and has become very popular.
Georges Buffon did not want to quarrel with the Church, but he spent the border between the biblical cosmogony and natural history (that was his main merit scholars positivists of the 19th century).
When the Church began to attack, Buffon was justified, refused their views, but continued to write your own. In the end, the theological faculty of the Sorbonne decided to burn unwanted books hand of the executioner. Only through the glory of Buffon, his non-confrontational nature, public relations at court, the scientist left alone, declaring his philosophy of nature “senile nonsense.”
In General, despite the obvious errors now, geological works of Buffon contained many true and original thoughts, among which thoughts about the importance for geological processes huge periods of time.
Believing that in the whole of nature reign some laws, Buffon’s theory of the origin of life has made a qualitative difference between the bodies of living and dead nature. To explain the growth, development, reproduction and other functions of life Buffon suggested the presence of organisms “inner form”, matrix, the role of which is under the influence of the “penetrating power “similar to the force of gravity.
Bouffon shared ideas about the self-conception of organisms, criticized bestow and animalculist and was closer to the supporters of epigenesis. Like other representatives of transformism, Buffon believed (not always consistently)that species are mutable, and that the causes of variability can be environment: climate, food, and others; an important factor in the transformation he believed the crossing.
The monument scientist are in many European cities.
For General views of Georges Buffon is characterized by the belief in the unity of nature, expressed in the gradual transition from the animal world to the world of plants, as well as in a single plan structure of animals.
Therefore, refusing to put the lion next to the cat, he placed articles about animals not systematic, and on a geographical basis and paid special attention to the influence of habitat conditions on lifestyle, behaviour, habits, and manners of animals.
Many scientists of the day believed Buffon Amateur and criticized him for erroneous information, unsubstantiated hypotheses and inappropriate in academic work shop style.
Indeed, fascinated by the grandeur and beauty of nature, Buffon along with reliable facts reported fictitious (e.g., animals), and theoretical constructs lack of knowledge is often compensated by the imagination, appearing below the level of contemporary science.
And later, in the 19th century, the scientific value of the work of Buffon frequently evaluated low, highlighting the contribution of its employees. However, there is much evidence of a strong stimulating effect Buffon on science and the whole intellectual climate of his time. On his thoughts and hypotheses, develop or challenge, referred to Kant, Diderot, Goethe, Lamarck, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Laplace; undoubtedly a beneficial effect Buffon on Cuvier.
Buffon through his devotion to science received the title of count and was.
Darwin noted that on the question of the origin of species, Buffon was the first of the writers of modern times, discussing this subject in a truly scientific spirit.”
C. I. Vernadsky, many engaged in natural history, saw the greatest merit of Buffon that he extended historical principle “at all visible nature. Totally unexpected, this extends the field of application history, fracture occurred in European society in understanding the value of time.”
Bouffon died in Paris on April 16, 1788, after Louis XV took him to the graf’s dignity, and Louis XV, during his lifetime, was honoured with a bust, installed at the entrance to the Royal Cabinet of natural history, with the inscription: “Majestati naturae ingenium par”.
” To learn and when the time comes to apply learned to the case isn’t it wonderful ! “