The philosophically orientated approach to natural history that flourished in Germany at the end of the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries. Its exponents include Herder, Goethe, Schelling, Hegel, and anatomists such as Lorenz Oken (1779–1851). The approach absorbed from Kant (and as a forerunner, Aristotle) the idea of a progress and teleology in the development of species and animals, but paid less attention to Kant's attempts to curb the pretensions of human reason. The result was a mixture of botanical and biological observation with unfettered metaphysical theory, largely directed to seeing nature in terms of a hierarchy of orders culminating in mankind. See also absolute idealism, Romanticism.
http://www.csudh.edu/phenom_studies/europ19/lect_3.html A lecture on Schelling's view of Naturphilosophie
http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/depts/philosophy/awaymave/408new/wk5.htm An essay on Hegel's and Schelling's philosophy of nature