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Der biologische Zellbegriff

Müller-Strahl, Gerhard

Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte, Bd. 46 (2004), Iss. 0: S. 110–137

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Müller-Strahl, Gerhard


The employment of the cell-concept is examined in the context of some selected cell-theories (R. Hooke, 1665; F. J. Meyen, 1830–39; Th. Schwann, 1839; H. F. Link,1839; M. J. Schleiden, 1842; C. Nägeli, 1845); for these cases it is argued that the logical structures of their respective cell-concepts are strongly interrelated, e. g., insome respect the theory of Schwann is an inversion of that of Meyen. Nevertheless, Meyen’s theory is distinguished by operating with an idealized cell-structure that is considered to compromise the necessary constituents for maintaining the diverse cell-functions, whereas in Schwann’s theory this clear ›cell-structure-to-cell-function‹ relationship is preserved only for the very beginning of cell-formation; the remaining segments of the cell’s life-cycle are modelled according to both a naturalhistorical and a physicochemical atomistic research programme; thus, this hybrid conception cannot be classified to be a pure cell-physiological one.Other cell-theories from between 1840 and about 1900 – among which are the theories of the »Energide« or the »Mikromer« – do not add to the beforehand elucidated logical structure of those earlier concepts. As a complement to all these (quasi-) cell-theoretical conceptions a more precise understanding of protoplasmatic theories may be obtained. Since, basically, they assumed the possibility of a substance (i. e. protoplasm) endowed with morphogenetic functions they got into the historically well documented conflict with cell-theories relating structure to function. Finally, the four-fold mode of meaning of the cell-concept is summarized and its relevance for fundamental problems in the biological debate or for questions concerning the reality of biological objects is discussed.


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Gerhard Müller-Strahl: Der biologische Zellbegriff. Verwendung und Bedeutung in Theorien organischer Materie 109