Schaefer Contribution to Geography Notes by NETSET CORNER

Fred Kurt Schaefer Contribution to Geography

Fred Kurt Schaefer (1904-1953)

Fred K. Schaefer, born in Berlin, Germany, was involved in politics as a member of social Democratic party.

He made a critical analysis of the book of Hartshorne, ‘The Nature of Geography’ and rejected the idiographic orthodoxy enshrined in this book. He criticised Hartshorne’s exceptionalist claims for regional geography and presented an alternative case for geography adopting the philosophy and methods of the positivist school of science.

He published a paper ‘Exceptionalism in Geography: A Methodological Examination’. In this he presented a scientific approach to geography based upon the search for geographical laws.

Exceptionalism claims that geography does not share the methodology of other sciences because of the peculiar nature of its subject matter-the study of unique places or regions.

Using analogies from physics and economics, Schaefer argued that geography is not peculiar in focusing on unique phenomena. All sciences deal with unique events which can only be accounted for by an integration of laws from various systematic sciences, but this does not prevent the development of laws. It is therefore, absurd to maintain that geographers are distinguished among the scientists through the integration of heterogeneous phenomena which they achieve. Thus, Schaefer argued that there is nothing exceptional in the philosophy (nature) and methodology of geography.

He argued for nomothetic geography declaring geography as general or systematic which aims to furnish general and universal surface in which the general and universal laws about spatial patterns are to be formulated instead of the regional and local laws. He is also one of pioneer of quantitative revolution.

Key Points on Schaefer:

[1] Schaefer published a paper ‘Exceptionalism in Geography: A Methodological Examination’.

[2] He rejected the exceptionalism view in geography

[3] He ask for Nomothetic Approach (Law-Making)

[4] He was supporter of Systematic / General Geography

[5] He is also one of pioneer of quantitative revolution.

[6] He supported Positivism and system analysis approach in geography.


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