Robert J. Richards – Ernst Haeckel’s Romantic Biology

RICHARDSE.B. Wilson History and Philosophy of Science Lecture
“Ernst Haeckel’s Romantic Biology”
Robert J. Richards, University of Chicago

Friday, June 17, 2016, 8 – 9pm
Lillie Auditorium
Lectures are free and open to the public.

Introduction by Ann Weissmann, art historian and curator

Lecture Abstract:

Ernst Haeckel was Darwin’s foremost champion, not only in Germany, but throughout the world. At the beginning of the 20th century, more people learned of evolutionary theory from his pen than from any other source, including Darwin’s own writings. In this talk, I will focus on two central aspects of Haeckel’s accomplishment: first, the way in which his artistic renderings intersected with his science, giving both a distinctive cast to that science and involving him in many disputes, hot objections—especially of fraud—that have been renewed in our own day. And my second consideration will be the manner in which both his art and science were driven by an overwhelming tragedy.

Robert J. Richards is the Morris Fishbein Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Science at University of Chicago, and professor in the departments of History, Philosophy, and Psychology. He is the author of several books in the history of evolutionary theory and German Romanticism. His most recent books are Was Hitler a Darwinian? Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory (2013) and with Michael Ruse, Debating Darwin (summer, 2016).


About the E.B. Wilson History and Philosophy of Science Lecture

The E.B. Wilson History and Philosophy of Science Lecture is given annually on a topic relevant to the history and/or philosophy of science. The Wilson Lecture was endowed in 2014 by Richard Creath and Jane Maienschein, Adjunct Senior Scientist in the MBL’s Bell Center, and is named in honor of Edmund Beecher Wilson, a pioneering cytologist and geneticist and one of the MBL’s earliest investigators and instructors. Wilson remained affiliated with the MBL as a researcher and trustee throughout his life.