Article ID: CBB001450276

Die Geometrie der Bienenwabe: Albertus Magnus, Karl von Baer und die Debatte über das Vorstellungsvermögen und die Seele der Insekten zwischen Mittelalter und Neuzeit (2013)


How to explain the architectonic skills of insects, best represented by the hexagonal structure of the honeycomb? This was one of the most striking puzzles in the history of science and epistemology. How was such a lowly animal able to construct complex structures, which obviously imitated geometrical patterns? How could the obvious gap between the product and its maker be explained? These questions ignited a debate that started with Albert the Great in the High Middle Ages and included such figures as Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, the Cartesians, Johannes Kepler, as well as philosophically trained natural scientists like Georges Buffon, René-Antoine Réaumur, Charles Bonnet, and of course Charles Darwin and the outstanding naturalists of the 19th and 20th century. Taking the skills of the bee as a starting point, the present paper reconstructs this long discussion of insect architecture and insect intelligence, and tries to uncover its medieval beginnings. Although in the early modern period the amount of relevant empirical observation grew continuously, nevertheless the solutions to the riddle of the honeycomb followed patterns that remained almost unchanged since the time of Albert the Great.


Description On the long discussion of insect architecture and insect intelligence, focusing on its medieval beginnings.

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Authors & Contributors
Raizman-Kedar, Yael
Eric, Cindy Hodoba
Wilkinson, Anouska
Theis, Robert
Steigerwald, Joan
Schliesser, Eric S.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Seventeenth Century
Perspectives on Science
Journal of the History of Ideas
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Foundations of Science
The MIT Press
SISMEL edizioni del Galluzzo
Princeton University Press
Georg Olms Verlag
Natural laws
Natural philosophy
Philosophy of science
Mathematics and its relationship to nature
Science and religion
Newton, Isaac
Kant, Immanuel
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Spinoza, Baruch
Hooke, Robert
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
18th century
Early modern

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