Published on 31 December 2022
On August 4th 1789, the day feudal rights and privileges were abolished in France, Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu published the Genera Plantarum. This book, written in Latin and never translated into French, was his great work, painstakingly written over fifteen years of detailed and systematic examination of all the plants and naturalist materials to which he had access as professor of botany at the Jardin du roi. It was a major turning point in a century of research and controversy on the classification of the plant world, and it paved the way for the European movement of synthesis and integration of the ordering of living organisms with the science that studies how they work.
This biography of Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu seeks to portray the botanist physician in interaction with his colleagues and the world, to follow the development of his thought, to retrace the progression of his scientific approach, his ongoing socialization, as well as to identify the technical, epistemological and social resources that he mobilized for his scholarly output and his interventions in the field of natural history. Beyond the life story of the scholar, Gilles Geneix above all traces the biography of a book, the Genera Plantarum: its construction, genealogy, global environment, authority, its intellectual life and erasure and, finally, its lasting legacy.
This study of scholarly practices and productions in the various callings of botanists, naturalists, physicists, chemists, physiologists, physicians or philosophers, is a form of history of the beginnings of European botany when it was emerging as a global science of plants from out of the nebula of natural philosophy, natural history and medicine.
Finally, the reader will also find the first French translation of the Prologue and Introduction of the Genera Plantarum, as well as Jussieu's thesis in medicine of 1770.
Gilles Geneix has a PhD in history of science from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. He is also an engineer and has a university degree in botany. Independent researcher attached to the Centre Alexandre Koyré (EHESS, CNRS, MNHN), his research focuses on history of science and naturalist knowledge from the eighteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. This book is based on his PhD dissertation presented to the EHESS in February 2020.
Geneix Gilles 2022 — Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu (1748-1836) : fabrique d’une science botanique. Paris : Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, 727 p. (Archives ; 31).