Germana Pareti

On the «end» of the natural history

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Temporality; Historia Naturalis/History of Nature; Buffon; Tournant des Lumières; Herder.

This essay aims at evidencing the argumentation that a transition from natural history to «history of nature» has taken place in the late Eighteenth century within the French culture. Moving from the seminal work of Lovejoy, many sociologists and historians have started by emphasizing the role assumed by the temporalization, stressing the intervened transformation of the European thought. Nevertheless the classic natural history continued to be carried out by the "sociétés savantes", botanical gardens, private collections etc. In such a contest the constitution of the "Société d'histoire naturelle" in 1790 represents an attempt to keep alive this discipline. Till the first decade of the Nineteenth century this concept has been preserved as subject of study in the principal educational institutions, which were reborn after the collapse of the Ancien Régime. In this perspective, the above mentioned model of history of nature might also fit in the late Buffon's thought, whereas Herder conceived the history of the humanity mainly as history of development.

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