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Lorenz Oken

Lorenz Oken

Bohlsbach 1779 -
Zürich 1851


The German naturalist and nature philosopher Lorenz Oken, whose original name was Lorenz Okenfuß, was born in Bohlsbach near Offenburg as the son of the farmer Johann Adam on August 1, 1779. After his school time in Offenburg and Baden, Okenfuß studied medicine in Freiburg from 1800 to 1804. In 1802 he published the "Übersicht des Grundrisses des Systems der Naturphilosophie im Geist der Naturphilosophie Schellings", which was followed by numerous contributions featuring the development of his own naturalist points of view.
Oken received his doctorate in 1804 and habilitated the following year after a short study sojourn in Würzburg, where he attended lectures in physiology under Ignaz Döllinger at the university of Göttingen and in philosophy under Schelling.
In 1807, thanks to the support of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Lorenz Oken received a position as professor of medicine in Jena. Between 1817 and 1848 the naturalist Oken published the encyclopedic journal "Isis", which is a scientific, cultural and historical document, that found great acclaim and respect within its circles.
In 1817 Lorenz Okens participated in the Wartburgfest, his subsequent report in "Isis" lead to a trial, which forced him to stop the journal. Two years later Lorenz Oken gave up his position as a professor in Jena.
After short stays in Munich, Basel and Paris he returned to Jena in 1822 and worked there as a private tutor. In the same year Oken was inspired by the annual meeting of the "Naturforschende Gesellschaft Bern" to found the "Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte" ("Society of German natural scientists and physicians"), which remains active today. In 1827 Oken accepted a position as a professor of physiology in Munich.
In 1832 he became a professor of natural history, natural philosophy and physiology at the newly established University of Zurich, where he was elected principal.
In 1835 Lorenz Oken became a citizen of Zurich. He died in Zurich on August 11, 1851.

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