Goethe's Plant Morphology: The Seeds of Evolution

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Goethe's Plant Morphology: The Seeds of Evolution

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10355/10078

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Title: Goethe's Plant Morphology: The Seeds of Evolution
Author: Kelley, Tanya
Date: 2007
Publisher: Interdisciplinary Doctoral Student Council at the University of Missouri- Kansas City
Citation: Journal of Interdisciplinary Research, Volume 1, Number 1, pp. 1-15
Abstract: It has long been debated whether the scientific writing of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) provided the seeds for the theory of evolution. Scholars have argued both sides with equal passion. German biologist and philosopher, Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) wrote, “Jean and Lamarck and Wolfgang Goethe stand at the head of all the great philosophers of nature who first established a theory of organic development, and who are the illustrious fellow workers of Darwin.”1 Taking the opposite stance was Chancellor of Berlin University, Emil du Bois Reymond (1818-1896). Du Bois was embarrassed by Goethe's forays into science. He wrote, “Beside the poet, the scientist Goethe fades into the background. Let us at long last put him to rest.”2 I argue that Goethe's scientific writings carry in them the seeds of the theory of evolution. Goethe's works on plant morphology reflects the conflicting ideas of his era on the discreteness and on the stability of species. Goethe's theory of plant morphology provides a link between the discontinuous view of nature...
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10355/10078
ISSN: 1937-2647

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