[Index of Biographies]

Christoph Gottlieb Büttner (1708-1776)

[This is a draft of an article in The Dictionary of Eighteenth Century German Philosophers, 3 vols., edited by Manfred Kuehn and Heiner Klemme (London/New York: Continuum, 2010).]

Christoph Gottlieb Büttner was born (10 Jul 1708) in Brandenburg (now Ushakovo), about twenty kilometers south-west of Königsberg, and died (1 Apr 1776) in Konigsberg.  He is best known as a skilled anatomist with a famous collection of prepared specimens, as well as for his work in forensic medicine and abnormal anatomy.  (He should not be confused with either Christian Wilhelm Büttner (1716-1801), a professor of natural history at Göttingen, or Christoph Andreas Büttner (1706-74), a professor of philosophy at Halle.)

Büttner studied medicine in Königsberg for seven years (1723-30) under Georg Rast (1651-1729)[bio], Melchior Philipp Hartmann (1685-1765)[bio], Christian Ludwig Charisius (1692-1741)[bio], and Christoph Daniel Meltzer (1698-1747)[bio], and then another two years at Halle studying with Michael Alberti (1682-1757)[bio], Johann Juncker (1679-1759), and Friedrich Hoffmann (1660-1742)[bio], under whom he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the causes of epilepsy (1732).  Büttner habilitated the following year at Königsberg with a dissertation on the vascularization of hemorrhoids (1733).  After a brief tour visiting the universities at Leipzig, Jena, and Wittenberg, Büttner returned to Königsberg to begin lecturing as a Privatdozent.  He quickly moved up the academic ladder, receiving an associate professorship in 1734, and then in 1737 the 5th full professorship of medicine, which had been created and given to him by royal decree on the condition that he build an anatomy theater — the first at Königsberg — at his own expense (estimated at about 500 Reichsthaler) and that he admit military physicians to his lectures free of charge.  In exchange for this, he was allowed to charge students to attend his public demonstrations on anatomy (what normally would have been free), and the building expenses were to be remitted to his heirs, with the university then taking possession of the building.  The theater was completed in November 1738.  Retirements and deaths moved Büttner into the 4th (1741), 3rd (1747), and finally the 2nd chair of medicine (1766); Immanuel Kant’s mentor J. C. Bohlius [bio], who outlived Büttner, held the first chair [medical faculty timeline].  Büttner also served as the regional physician for Samland beginning in 1736 after Meltzer retired from this position.  In 1770 he was made a member of Germany’s oldest scientific society, the Germany Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, and much of his research was published in its journal, the Nova acta Leopoldina.

Most of Büttner's writings were brief tracts, with many of these later collected and republished; the majority were reports of his anatomical researches, especially birth deformities (human and non-human), as well as forensic medicine.

One minor biographical connection to his famous fellow townsman Immanuel Kant: Büttner married a daughter of Christoph Daniel Meltzer (1698-1747), one of his old medical professors, and Büttner’s own daughter, Johanna Eleonora (1751-95), married the mathematics professor Johann Schultz (1739-1805)[bio], a colleague of Kant’s.  A letter from Johanna to Kant (22 December 1793) suggests a daughterly affection for the elderly philosopher.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

In vielen Jahren gesammlete anatomische Wahrnehmungen (Königsberg, 1768).

Aufrichtiger Unterricht vor neu angehende Aerzte und Wundärzte, wie sie sich vor, in, und nach der legalen Besichtigungen todter Körper zu verhalten und die Besichtigungsscheine von der Tödtlichkeit der Wunden einzurichten haben (Königsberg and Leipzig, 1769).

Gesammelte anatomischen Abhandlungen (Königsberg, 1769).

Anatomische Wahrnehmungen, mit Kupfern (Königsberg, 1769).

Vollständige Anweisung wie durch anzustellende Besichtigungen ein verübter Kindermord auszumitteln sey, nebst acht und achtzig beygefügten eigenen Obductions-Zeugnissen (Königsberg, 1771).

Sechs seltene Anatomisch-Chirurgische Wahrnehmungen (Königsberg, 1774).

Other Relevant Works

De vera mali epileptici causa (Halle, 1732).

De vasis haemorrhoidalibus praecipue cum abdominis visceribus conspirantibus (Königsberg, 1733).

De hydropes veri genuina causa proxima (Königsberg, 1734).

Beweis von der vermehrten Glückseligkeit eines Lands, durch ein erbautes Theatrum anatomicum (Königsberg, 1738).

Dissertatio anatomico de peritonaeo (Königsberg, 1738).

Anatomische Anmerckung und Beweiss aus der Natur des Cörpers, dass ein Kind, mit dem aus der Brust gewachsenen und heraushangenden Hertzen und fehlenden Hertzbeutel, so wohl im Mutterleibe wachsen, zunehmen und vollkommen, als auch lebendig gebohren werden (Königsberg, 1747).

Anweisung für angehende Arzeneybeflissene, wobey sie bey Ausstellung eines Obductions-Attestes über tödtliche Verletzungen, mit Acht zu geben haben ... (Königsberg, 1768).

Beschreibung des inneren Wasserkopfes und des ganzen Beinkörpers einer von ihrer Geburt an bis ins 31te Jahr krank gewesenen Person weiblichen Geschlechts (Königsberg, 1773).

Further Reading

ADB, vol. 3, p. 660 (August Hirsch).

APB, vol. 1, pp. 92-93 (Schwarz).

Arnoldt, Daniel Heinrich, Ausführliche und mit Urkunden versehene Historie der Königsbergischen Universität (Königsberg, 1746), vol. 2, pp. 289-90, 319-20, 335-6.

Zusätze zu seiner Historie der Königsbergischen Universität (Königsberg, 1756), p. 58.

Fortgesetzte Zusätze zu seiner Historie der Königsbergischen Universität (Königsberg, 1769), pp. 41, 165.

Börner, Friedrich, Nachrichten von den vornehmsten Lebensumständen und Schriften jetztlebender berühmter Aerzte und Naturforscher in und um Deutschland (Wolfenbüttel, 1753), vol. 3, pp. 174-83.

Goldbeck, Johann Friedrich, Nachrichten von der Königlichen Universität zu Königsberg in Preußen, und den daselbst befindlichen Lehr- Schul- und Erzeihungsanstalten (Dessau, 1782), pp. 74-5.

Meusel (Leipzig, 1802), vol. 1, pp. 717-18.

Pisanski, Georg Christoph, Entwurf einer preussischen Literargeschichte, ed. by Rudolf Philippi (Königsberg, 1886), pp. 620-22, 624, 630. Orig. publ.: Königsberg, 1790.

[Index of Biographies]