Frederik Jacobus Johannes Buytendijk
- Category : 1887-births
- Type : PE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Four Ways 1
Dutch physician, biologist, animal physiologist, phenomenologist, philosophical anthropologist, psychologist and author of many books and articles.
His father was an officer and mathematics teacher on the Royal military academy (KMA) in Breda. His more romantic mother stimulated his poetic and literary talent.
He was delivered with the help of a forceps. As a child he enjoyed strolling in the surroundings of Breda and with help of the book "In sloot en plas" of field biologists J. P. Thijsse en E. Heijmans' he became a keen observer. Being protestant, extremely intelligent and solistic he had little affinity with the other catholic children in the Southern Netherlands. Later the family moved to North Holland.
"Frits" Buytendijk went to study medicine at age 17 (skipped a class) at Amsterdam University and got the first year propedeutics exam in 1904 without following a single college. His family was not wealthy, so Buytendijk wanted to study hard and fast. Actually he wanted to become a military officer like his admired father, but he was rejected as he was deaf in the left ear.
He experienced the physiology colleges of Professor Thomas Place as a revelation. At age 17 he boldly visited the professor to protest against his seemingly physiological materialistic point of view: All thoughts, emotions and feelings had their counterpart in material cerebral processes. Were men not free individuals asked Buytendijk? How old are you asked the professor. Seventeen, he replied. Well, then come to work on my physiological lab. A few days later he had to determine the ammonia levels in urine. But the Catholic Thomas Place also became his spiritual mentor and stimulated him to read GH Lewes "The life of Goethe", the Confessions of Augustine and many great philosophers of life. Later he personally met original scientists like Max Scheler, Hans Driesch and Helmuth Plessner. With the last he became a personal friend.
On 17 September 1906 he got a gold medal from the university for his experiments of the affect of adrenaline on blood vessels.
On 21 October 1909 he became a physician. Following this he went to study at the "Stazione Zoölogica" in Napels, Italy. He was fascinated by the taste cells of ink fishes (cephalopods). Many years later the Catholic paper "De Volkskrant" would call him "an octopus in science".
He went back to Holland and became an assistant of Professor Zwaardemaker in Utrecht.
He travelled a lot in Europe and met many famous physiologists like Charles Scott Sherrington.
In 1913/1914 he was an assistant of the psychiatrist L. Bouman in the biological lab of the clinic of the Protestant VU University of Amsterdam.
In 1914 he became lector in Biology of the Protestant Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.
He dissertated on 17 Dec 1918 at 4 PM in Utrecht cum laude under Zwaardemaker on "Proeven over gewoontevorming bij dieren" (trials on the habit forming of animals).
From 1919-1925 he was a professor of general physiology at the protestant "Vrije" University of Amsterdam.
From 1925-1946 he was a professor of animal physiology at the University of Groningen. He was appointed 29 November 1924 and started 17 January 1925 with his inaugural speech "Over het verstaan der levensverschijnselen" (About the understanding of life events).
From July - October 1942 he was held hostage by the Nazi German occupants in Haaren. Before that he had published anthropological works that fiercely opposed the "Blut und Bodem" ideology of the Nazi's as not scientific. He was released, but he did not feel safe and went underground from 1944-1945 in Utrecht.
On 5 June 1948 he became a member of the Dutch Academy of Science.
From 1946 to 1957 he was a professor of psychology at the University of Utrecht. According to the Utrecht University website there were three periods: He started to teach General Psychology on 3 July 1946. He became Emeritus professor in the Physiological Foundations of Psychology on 16 September 1957. He became Emeritus professor Experimental General Psychology on 1 April 1964 and again Professor in the Physiological Foundations of Psychology on 1 September 1964. He also held extraordinary Professor posts in Nijmegen and Leuven.
The extremely intellectual and all fields of knowledge exploring Frederik Buytendijk was born with a remarkably fitting name: The Dutch word "buitendijks" hints to the arable land on the not protected side of the river or sea dike. He was indeed a restless man, who liked to travel and traverse the common boundaries. The Dutch paper De Volkskrant called him "an octopus in science" as he traversed all scientific discipline boundaries.
He was according to his student Prick introverted and had a pyknic body build. He had many scientific contacts, but few real friends.
Buytendijk was an autodidact in the field of psychology and in so many other fields he wrote on. Though being elected to be a professor of psychology at relatively old age(60), he declared with some proud that he never studied a handbook of psychology. Medicine he once regarded as a sub-field of biology.
He had a curious investigating mind and wrote essays about all kind of subjects: from the psychology of socker, Dostojevsky, the nature of women or pain, criminality, to the life of animals and ants. He corresponded with philosophers as Binswanger, Guardini, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to share his views.
As a philosophically oriented phenomenologist and anthropologist he believed in an integral approach of life. He wanted to study man in the totality of his diverse world and did not want to limit himself to any discipline. Marriage, art, love, work and even criminality were all to be studied aspects of life.
On 15 June 1911 he married Henriëtte Wilhelmina van Bemmel. They got 3 sons and a daughter.
In 1937 the Protestant (Nederlands Hervormd) raised Buytendijk and on a Gereformeerd (reformed) working University converted to Catholicism. The question Geelkerken in the thirties, a theologian who was expelled out of the church as he doubted the historicity of the bible played a role. Buytendijk regretted the rational and dogmatic views of the Reformed Protestant church, that left little room for the human heart.
He was a friend of the catholic writer Anton van Duinkerken.
He was an editor and writer in the popular scientific Aula pocket books.
He died 21 October 1974 in the neurological clinic of his pupil J.J.G. Prick in Nijmegen, after exactly 65 years having been a medical doctor.