The New International Encyclopædia/Oken, Lorenz

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2155245The New International Encyclopædia — Oken, Lorenz

OKEN, ō̇k′en, Lorenz (1779-1859). A German naturalist and philosopher, born at Bohlsbac. His real name was Ockenfuss. He studied medicine and the natural sciences at Würzburg and Göttingen. In 1807 he became a professor of medicine at Jena, and in 1812 received the chair of natural sciences, but in 1819 he was compelled to resign his position because a scientific journal called Isis, which he had conducted since 1816, gave offense to the Government. In 1828 he obtained a professorship in the newly founded University of Munich, and in 1832 accepted a chair at Zurich, where he remained until his death. Oken sought to unify all the natural sciences, and invented an entirely new and very complicated terminology for the purpose. His system was in some respects fantastic, and is now almost obsolete. Some of his speculations were, however, fortunate. As early as 1805 he foreshadowed the theories of the cellular structure of organisms and of the protoplasmic basis of life, and his vertebral theory of the structure of the skull, although false, was an important contribution to comparative morphology. His most important works are: Die Zeugung (1805); Ueber die Bedeutung der Schädelknochen (1806); Lehrbuch der Naturphilosophie (1808-11), translated into English by Tulk and called Elements of Physio-philosophy (1847); Lehrbuch der Naturgeschichte (1813-27).