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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Haeckel, Ernst

 

Ernest Haeckel
      Ernest Haeckel

(1834-1919). Professor of Comparative Anatomy and director of the Zoological Institute Zoology at Jena. Born on February 16, 1834, at Potsdam. He was well-known for his early adoption of the theory of evolution and Darwin attributed the rapid acceptance of his theory in Germany to Haeckel’s energetic promotion of it.

Haeckel is said to have been a member of the German Theosophical Society, but the destruction of records by the Nazis has made verification difficult. If Haeckel studied theosophy such study seems to have had little or no effect on his scientific pronouncements which were materialistic in content. His genealogical construction was given in a paper read to the Fourth International Zoological Congress, held at Cambridge in 1898, which traced the descent of the human race in 26 stages from organisms such as the still existing Monera (simple structureless masses of protoplasm) and the unicellular Protista, through the chimpanzees and the Pithecanthropus erectus. Haeckel was an early supporter of the theory of inherited characteristics which later became known as Lamarckism.

Haeckel is mentioned quite often in Helena P. BLAVATSKY’S The Secret Doctrine (particularly Vol. II, p. 327 et seq.). His book Pedigree of Man seems to have attracted considerable attention and Blavatsky frequently disagreed with his theories. He died at Jena on August 8, 1919.

P.S.H.

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