Talk:Petrus Camper

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To understand the laws of morphology, Petrus Camper demonstrated the principle of correlation in all organisms by the mechanical exercise he called a metamorphosis. In his 1778 lecture, "On the Points of Similarity between the Human Species, Quadrupeds, Birds, and Fish; with Rules for Drawing, founded on this Similarity," Petrus Camper metamorphized a horse into a human being using comparative anatomical physiology. The concept that animals or groups of animals were all variations on one and the same basic plan has been called the "Unity of Plan," a phrase not used by Petrus Camper. The word "metamorphosis," which he favored, came from the Greek, meta or "over" and morphe or "form," refers to a change of form. The underlying similarity between all vertebrates had imporessed many observers for centuries. Plato had his theory of universal Ideas or Forms and Aristotle recognized that the parts were the same in all the animals belonging to the same class, only they differed in "excess or defect" (later known as the "Principle of Correlation"). After the Renaissance, the Unity of Type was recognized by Pierre Belon de Mans, Marco Aurelio Severino, Claude Perrault, Jan Swammerdam, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Petrus Camper was preceded by several colleagues in his century. Maupertuis in 1751, Buffon in 1753, Diderot in 1754, Kant in 1763, Robinet in 1766, and Vicq-d'Azyr in 1774 discussed in various fashions the concept of basic anatomical similarity among the vertebrates. Petrus Camper's contribution to the concept of vertebrate uniformity were his graphic metamorphoses, which greatly impressed Denis Diderot and Johann Wolfgang Goethe. In 1923 and 1939 some Dutch authors suggested that Camper foreshadowed Goethe's famous idea of "type" — a common structural pattern in some manner. This is confirmed by Peter Hanns Reill who argues convincingly that the practitioners in the life sciences switched from pure mechanism to "vitalism" in the second half of the eighteenth century. Whereas mechanical natural philosophy focused on two types of force, imparted force and conserved force, Georges de Buffon and his followers added an active or self-activating force, which had a teleological character. The teleological principle reintroduced both development and contingency as explanatory concepts. Progressive development was not continuous, but proceeded through a series of drastic changes, "revolutions," in which the outward form was changed drastically, followed by a gradual development in the newly formed shape. The image often used for these revolutions was "metamorphosis." The goal of mediation between regular development and free creation was to find the similar tendencies between dissimilar things; this hidden organizer was the ground on which all reality rested. In eighteenth-century language, this hidden, informing agent was called by terms such as "internal mold" (Buffon), "prototype" (Robinet), "Mittelkraft" (Schiller), "Urtype" (Goethe), "schemata" (Kant), or "Haupttypus" (Herder). As a comparative anatomist and incredibly skilled draftsman, Petrus Camper could demonstrate the hidden prototype inherent in it's physiology "with a few strokes of the pencil" by progressively tracing one animal into another.

by Miriam Claude Meijer, Ph.D.

Petrus Camper Did Not Use the Facial Angle for Racist Purposes[edit]

It has been generally accepted in recent times that the racist application of his facial angle is due to interpreting his work through other scientist who used it improperly. A quick glance over primary sources will show that infact he was one of the few people that respected blacks in his time. (talk) 17:10, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree, and I have tried to set the record straight by uploading his initial lectures to Wikisource and making a separate article Facial Angles (Camper). Jane (talk) 12:16, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

Studied under Boerhaave? References?[edit]

According to Pieter Camper on Neurotree his "parents" was Pieter van Musschenbroek (as a research assistant) and Adriaan van Royen (as a grad student), who, in their turn, both were grad students of Boerhaave.
According to Who named it: "His physics teachers were Willem Jacob ‘sGravesande (1688-1742) and Pieter van Musschenbroek (1692-1761), both among the leading continental proponents of Newtonian empiricism. In the medical faculty he was taught by Bernhard Siegfried Albinus (1697-1770), Herman Oosterdijk Schacht (1704-1792), and Hieronymus Davides Gaub (1705-1780). Camper practised midwifery under the guidance of Cornelis Trioen (1686-1746), the teacher of the city’s midwives."
The University of Groningen (here) says: "Through lectures from ‘s Gravesande and Van Musschenbroek, Camper learned first hand about theories and methodologies of the new experimental physics. He had a broad interest in science but developed a special interest in medicine. The medical faculty in Leiden was one of the best in Europe. Bernhard Albinus’ anatomy lessons and those in botany from Adriaan van Rooyen were very important in the scientific forming of Petrus Camper."

Which are the articles' references for the claim that he studied for Boerhaave?

  • The only reference given among the notes for the chapter "Studies and teaching" is about his marriage some 18 years after the death of Boerhaave.
  • And what do the five given references for the article have to say:
    • The short article on Camper in "Bouillet, Marie-Nicolas Bouillet and Alexis Chassang. (1878). Dictionnaire universel d'histoire et de géographie." can be found here. It does mention Boerhaave (and nobody else) as being the teacher of Camper, but it also says that Boerhaave was "professeur de philosophie, de medicine, et de chirugie" (actually he was professor in botany, medicine and chemistry - and he resigned from his chairs in botany and chemistry in 1729, when Camper was seven years old, and he died in 1738 when Camper was 16). (The article on Boerhaave in this "Dictionnaire" (found here doesn't mention anything about Camper.) How trustworthy is this source? A dictonary from 1878.
    • Miriam Claude Meijer's page is just something about a 1778 lecture on similarity between the Human Species, Quadrupeds, Birds, and Fish... and doen't mention Boerhaave.
    • The reference Thomas Rosenboom Gewassen vlees is a novel! Yes, a novel! "His novel Gewassen vlees is set during the eighteenth century, at the time of the Pachtersoproer." Much truth in novels? By the way, the Pachtersoproer took place in 1748, ten years after Boerhaave's death.
    • Thomson, Ann. Issues at Stake in Eighteenth-century Racial Classification can be found here. And of course there is no mention of Boerhaave.
    • Wood, James, ed. (1907). The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne can be found here. Its only mention of Camper is this: "Camper, Peter, a Dutch anatomist, born at Leyden; held sundry professorships; made a special study of the facial angle in connection with intelligence; he was an artist as well as a scientist, and a patron of art (1722-1789)."

How about the other Wikipedias? The only page claiming that he studied under Boerhaave is the French. The only reference whatsoever is the article on Camper in the same Dictionnaire universel d'histoire et de géographie as this page.
The page in Dutch (and in West Friesian - it's the same page) mentions Willem Jacob 's Gravesande and Petrus van Musschenbroek (I think only it says that they spread the ideas of Newton, nothing about teaching, but Dutch is only partly understandable to me), and that Frans Hemsterhuis was a lifelong friend - but Boerhaave, no. And neither does any of the other wikipedia-pages in other languages.

--Episcophagus (talk) 17:58, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

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Measure shown in facial angle picture is incorrect.[edit]

Angle measurement shown in picture is 68 degree (wrong) it is morelike 22 degree, its not facial angle but real facial angle form from frankfor horizontal plane intersect with facial plane.