The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Müller, Johannes

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MÜLLER, Johannes, German physiologist: b. Coblenz, Prussia, 14 July 1801; d. Berlin, 28 April 1858. He studied, from 1819, at Bonn and Berlin, started service (1824) as private dozent of physiology and comparative anatomy at Bonn, and became assistant professor (1830), then (1833) professor of anatomy and physiology at Berlin. His first important works, ‘Zur vergleichenden Physiologie des Gesichtsinns’ (Leipzig 1826) and ‘Uber die phantastischen Gesichtserscheinungen’ (Coblenz 1826), are of a subjective philosophical tendency, the first concerning the most important facts as to human and animal sight; the second sounds depths of difficult psychological problems. He soon became the leader in the science of the morphological treatment of zoology as well as of experimental physiology. To his active researches (1830) are due the foundation of the Bell law concerning the work of the roots of the nerves of the spinal marrow, the settlement of the theory of reflex action, the more exact knowledge of the blood's constitution, lymphs, chyle, etc. He even investigated the vocal organs and sound expression, producing fundamental work on the sense of hearing. He finished his great work ‘Handbuch der Physiologie des Menschen’ (Coblenz 1833-40; 4th ed., 1841-44) in Berlin. It has been translated into English under the title ‘Elements of Physiology’ (1837-43). The work discloses an entire knowledge of physiology, including comparative organology and medical histology from their microscopical and chemical viewpoints. The work was epoch-making. From 1833 he issued numerous treatises on comparative and pathological anatomy and systematic zoology. Of such should be cited ‘Der vergleichende Anatomie der Myxinoiden’ (Berlin 1835-41); ‘Beschreibung der Plagiostomen’ (ib. 1838-41), in collaboration with Jacob Henle; ‘Ueber den Bau und die Grenzen der Ganoiden und das natürliche System der Fische’ (ib. 1844); ‘Ueber die Larven und die Metamorphose der Echino-dermen’ (ib. 1849). His ‘Ueber den feineren Bau der krankhaften Geschwülste’ (ib. 1838), which was never finished, was a pioneer for microscopical research in pathological anatomy. From then on he worked almost exclusively in the realm of comparative anatomy and brought forth numerous researches concerning the lower animals. He took 19 trips to the Baltic and North Sea, the Adriatic and the Mediterranean to investigate salt-water life. It is declared of him that he was the most versatile, fruitful, genial and lucky investigator of modern days, and he maintained his vitality till the end. He never questioned the rights of philosophy or even faith nor positive religion, but no single being has done more toward placing physics and chemistry in their correct place in physiology and establishing the true method in contrast with the errors of natural philosophy, spiritualism and orthodoxy, for all rime. From 1834 he published Archiv für Anatomie, Physiologie und wissenschaftliche Medizin. In 1899 a bronze statue was erected in his memory at Coblenz. Consult his biographies by Virchow (Berlin 1858) and De Bois-Reymond (ib. 1860).