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A Fine Map from Alexander von Humboldt (1851) (longstreet.typepad.com)
73 points by Petiver 52 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

Humboldt is a very fascinating character, who sadly is often overlooked. If anyone is interested in learning more about him, I strongly recommend this biography by Andrea Wulf: https://amzn.to/2KWiy36

Since nobody mentioned it yet - I would like to point out that there were two Humboldts (brothers). Alexander was the explorer, Wilhelm the Prussian government official.

Not everything named "Humboldt" is Alexander. For example, the Humboldt University Berlin (ca. 33,000 students) is named after both brothers, and it was Wilhelm who helped to create it.

Wilhelm von Humboldt -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_von_Humboldt

I'm quoting a few sentences here because this Humboldt brother likely is much less well-known here:

> He is especially remembered as a linguist who made important contributions to the philosophy of language, ethnolinguistics and to the theory and practice of education. In particular, he is widely recognized as having been the architect of the Humboldtian education ideal, which was used from the beginning in Prussia as a model for its system of education and eventually in countries such as the US and Japan.

> Humboldt installed a standardized system of public instruction, from basic schools till secondary education, and founded Berlin University. He imposed a standardization of state examinations and inspections and created a special department within the ministry to oversee and design curricula, textbooks and learning aids.

> ...his fragment of a treatise on the 'Theory of Human Education', which he had written in about 1793. Here, Humboldt states that 'the ultimate task of our existence is to give the fullest possible content to the concept of humanity in our own person ... through the impact of actions in our own lives.' This task 'can only be implemented through the links established between ourselves as individuals and the world around us'

Alexander von Humboldt -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_von_Humboldt

The person the map-story is about.

Qualifier: overlooked today. Historically he was an enormous figure in the sciences, and many things are named after him. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Things_named_aft...

The linked biography claims that more places are named after von Humboldt than any other person ever. I don't know how that's quantified, and am surprised that it's not some royalty or religious figure

If one has institutes and prestigious awards and fellowships named after oneself, they are not overlooked.

Thanks. I've been meaning for years to learn more about him.

His views on Libertarianism, as espoused by Chomsky are interesting

Humboldt's "Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent" is a completely fascinating read... here's this brilliant, neurodiverse individual doing everything he can to... find the headwaters of the Orinoco river, because obviously. The part about how to catch electric eels with a herd of horses is particularly inspired, unless you are a horse or an eel.

He describes the use of Ayahuasca in South America. While he doesn't claim to have tried it, he did come back with a unifying theory of everything...

> neurodiverse individual

What does this mean?

It usually means someone on the autism spectrum. People not on the spectrum are called "neurotypical".

Is there any evidence for that? He was clearly a polymath and Renaissance man, but he maintained dozens or hundreds of deep relationships with many people through out his life, and was well received by almost everyone he ever met. Maybe "neurodiverse" in this sense just means "genius"?

One particular figure that illustrates the magnitude of Humboldt's work is that there are more plants, animals, minerals, and places named after him than any other person [0].

[0]: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-wulf-rediscoveri...

The cartography there is superb. Relatively few cues to indicate it's not modern. But notice: no Antarctica! I guess it had been sighted by then, but its coastline insufficiently mapped.

I am surprised also. People had sailed to at least around the entire continent in 1820.


Humboldt attributes the term kosmos to Pythagoras -- as well as his belief in a rational, harmonious universe.

Very detailed map considering it's from 1851.

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