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Johannes Peter Müller - continued...

As soon as he arrived in Berlin, Müller began revitalizing the university’s anatomical museum, which Rudolphi had built from Johann Gotlieb Walter’s private collection, sold to the Prussian government in 1803 (Winau 1987, pp. 107-8). Housed on the second floor of the university building’s west wing, the anatomical museum became Müller’s greatest scientific love. He became obsessed with collecting all known animal forms, past and present, in hope that by aligning them properly, he could understand how life was organized. Each August and September, the only two months of the year in which he didn’t teach, Müller traveled to the Baltic Sea, North Sea, or Mediterranean Sea coast to study marine organisms and collect new museum specimens.

Between 1833 and 1844, Müller consolidated his physiological knowledge in his enormously influential Handbuch der Physiologie, which became the leading textbook in the field for much of the nineteenth century (Lohff 1978, p. 247). The organization of this work shows Müller’s simultaneous commitments to vitalism, philosophy, and rigorous science. He begins with a discussion of why organic matter differs fundamentally from inorganic but then proceeds to chemical analyses of the blood and lymph. He describes in detail the circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, nervous, and sensory systems in a wide variety of animals but explains that the presence of a soul makes each organism an indivisible whole. The same work that examines the behavior of light and sound waves proposes that living organisms possess a life-energy for which physical laws can never fully account.

Reference: Otis, Laura. 2004. Johannes Müller. The Virtual Laboratory (ISSN 1866-4784),