Büchner, Ludwig (1824–1899)

Bacillus infernus

Ludwig Büchner was a German physician and philosopher who, in his Kraft und Stoff ("Force and Matter", 1855), attempted scientifically to establish a materialistic view of the universe. This led to a violent controversy and Büchner was compelled to resign his post at Tübingen University. In Kraft und Stoff he attacked the teleology inherent in pluralistic views of the universe based on natural theology. He pointed out that there are many examples of phenomena surplus to the requirements of life, such as the Sun "constantly squandering uselessly huge quantities of light and heat in the cold realms of space" and, also shining "during those untold of ages of the past in which no creature existed ... to turn these glorious arrangements to account ..."


Büchner was born in Darmstadt, where his father was a doctor. He studied at Giessen, Starsburg, Würzburg, and Vienna. After leaving Tübingen, he began medical practice in Darmstadt.