Article ID: CBB000651414

National Styles? Jacques Loeb's Analysis of German and American Science Around 1900 in his Correspondence with Ernst Mach (2005)


In modern discourse about the history of science, it seems to be widely accepted that at the end of the nineteenth century, Germany was one of the leading countries in the production of science. In the past, historians of science tried to trace back a specific `German style' of science that---in combination with other factors---determined this German dominance around 1900, especially in the life sciences. Considering the theoretical concept of `national styles', it has to be kept in mind that around 1900, contemporaries already proclaimed `national styles' of science as representations of national identity. Thus, the question arises as to how far existing historiographical conceptions of national styles may include earlier claims and prejudices. Careful reconstructions of contemporary discourses on national styles and inquiries into the `stylisation' of a dominant, successful `German style' are necessary. One of the contemporary critics of a `German style' of science was the physiologist Jacques Loeb (1859--1924), who emigrated to the USA in 1891. Loeb corresponded regularly with the physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach (1838--1916). Ernst Mach can be considered Loeb's intellectual father with whom he corresponded about strategic, philosophical, and epistemological questions. Using the Loeb--Mach correspondence, the aim of the paper is to reconstruct Loeb's conception of a `German style' of science and its differences to an `American style'. Changes in his views are discussed as well as the roots of his views and some of their consequences. Finally, Loeb's ideas on national styles and his working profiles before and after his emigration are compared to historiographical analyses of `American' or `German' styles of science around 1900.

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Authors & Contributors
Fangerau, Heiner
Gaudillière, Jean-Paul
Gausemeier, Bernd
Lederer, Susan Eyrich
Schmaltz, Florian
Baader, Gerhard
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Pharmacy in History
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Utah
Yale University
Oxford University Press
Cross-national comparison
National histories
Research institutes; research stations
Science and politics
Mach, Ernst
Loeb, Jacques
Boltzmann, Ludwig
Weber, Max
Eduard Meyer
Fechner, Gustav Theodor
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
United States
Great Britain
Soviet Union
Institut Pasteur, Paris
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Biochemie, Berlin-Dahlem
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Anthropologie, Menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik
Maxim Gorky Medical Genetics Institute (USSR)
Eugenics Record Office, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

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