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Guyot, Arnold (1807–1884)

  • By: Jonathan Leib
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Arnold Guyot, an important 19th-century Swiss and American geographer, is best known for his pathbreaking work in physical geography. He was also a disciple of Carl Ritter, and he introduced and advanced Ritter's vision of geography to the United States. Specifically, he advocated investigating and understanding the causes and consequences of the processes creating Earth's physical and human geography (rather than merely describing them) in terms of Ritter's teleological understanding of these processes.

Born in Switzerland, Guyot earned his doctorate in physical geography in 1835 at the University of Berlin under Ritter's direction. Following the completion of his dissertation, and inspired by his friend Louis Agassiz, Guyot undertook groundbreaking research on alpine glaciation. Guyot taught in Switzerland until 1848, when, due to political instability, he left ...

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