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JOHANNES PETER MULLER (18o1-1858)

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 962 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHANNES PETER MULLER (18o1-1858), German physiologist and comparative anatomist, was born at Coblenz on the 14th of July 18o,. In 1819 he entered Bonn University, where he became privatdocent in 1824, extraordinary professor of physiology in 1826, and ordinary professor in 183o. In 1883 he removed to the university of Berlin, where he filled the chair of anatomy and physiology with great distinction until his death on the 28th of April 1858. Muller made numerous researches in various departments of physiology, and in particular he extended knowledge as to the mechanism of voice, speech and hearing, and as to the chemical and physical properties of lymph, chyle and blood. The appearance of his Handbuch der Physiologie des Menschen between 1833 and 184o (translated into English by Dr William Baly, and published in London in 1842) marked the beginning of a new period in the study of physiology. In it, for the first time, the results of human and comparative anatomy, as well as of chemistry and other departments of physical science, were brought to bear on the investigation of physiological problems. The most important portion of the work was that dealing with nervous action and the mechanism of the senses. Here he stated the principle, not before recognized, that the kind of sensation following stimulation of a sensory nerve does not depend on the mode of stimulation but upon the nature of the sense-organ. Thus light, pressure, or mechanical stimulation acting on the retina and optic nerve invariably produces luminous impressions. This he termed the law of the specific energy of sense substances. In the later part of his life he chiefly devoted himself to comparative anatomy. Fishes and marine invertebrata were his favourite subjects. Muller numbered such distinguished physiologists as H. von Helmholtz, E. Du Bois Reymond and K. F. W. Ludwig among his pupils. In addition to his Handbuch der Physiologie, his publications include Zur vergleichenden Physiologie des Gesichtssinns (1826); Uber die phantastischen Gesichtserscheinungen (1826); Bildungsgeschichte der Genitalien (183o), in which he traced the development of the Mullerian duct; De glandularum secerneniium structura (183o); Vergleichende Anatomie der Myxinoiden (1834–1843); Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen (1841) with F. G. J. Henle; System der Asteriden (1842) with F. H. Troschel; and Horae ichthyologicae (1845-1849) with the same. After the death of J. F. Meckel (1781-1833) he edited the Archiv fur Anatomic and Physiologie.
End of Article: JOHANNES PETER MULLER (18o1-1858)
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Additional information and Comments

the major implication of Muller's doctrine of specific nerve energies is that our awareness is not objects but rather our nerves themselves.
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