LMP Seminar

LMP Seminar: Structuralist evolution theory from Kant to Schrödinger

  • Date: Aug 27, 2019
  • Time: 14:00 - 15:30
  • Speaker: Prof. Nicolaas A. Rupke
  • Washington and Lee University, Lexington, USA
  • Location: Max-Planck-Institut für Dynamik und Selbstorganisation (MPIDS)
  • Room: Riemannraum 1.40, Am Fassberg 17, 37077 Goettingen
  • Host: MPIDS / LMP
  • Contact: golestanian-office@ds.mpg.de
The standard narrative of evolution theory, canonized during the 1959 centenary of On the Origin of Species, has taken as its historical starting point Charles Darwin’s mid-nineteenth century theory of organic evolution by means of natural selection. In this presentation, a proposal is put forward for a different, expanded narrative that begins with the mid-eighteenth century notion of scientific naturalism and cosmological evolution by means of self-organization. The term “structuralist evolution” has been coined for this unified theory. The structuralist approach to the origin of the universe, including life and life’s diversity, has its beginning in 1755 with the publication of Immanuel Kant’s Allgemeine Naturgeschichte und Theorie des Himmels. Among the several eminent followers were Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, Alexander von Humboldt, Richard Owen and, in part also, Ernst Haeckel. The very many organic phenomena that require a structuralist explanation, were put together by D’Arcy Thompson in his compendious On Growth and Form, and the linchpin issue of the origin of life, which the Darwinians could not and did not deal with, found a classical expression in Erwin Schrödinger’s What is Life? Questions that briefly will be addressed include “Why, in the wake of WW II, did the structuralist approach lose out against the Darwinian?”, “How can we unify structuralism and Darwinism?” and “Is today’s extended evolutionary synthesis” enough?
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