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Goetheanum, Dornach |

Evolving Morphology 2017

Conférence Internationale au Institut de Recherche au Goetheanum


In the dawn of epigenetic inheritance, the phenotype regains a prominent position in evolutionary thinking, as traits acquired during the lifetime of individual organisms can be passed on to further generations. It is time to reconsider concepts leading towards an understanding not only of the survival – which has been well established – but the arrival of the fittest. For this reason the Research Institute at the Goetheanum celebrates the 200-year anniversary of the publication of Goethe's notebooks under the title Zur Morphologie (On Morphology), with a conference. The aim of the Conference is to look back at Goethe’s original inception of the dynamic way of seeing by revisiting the conceptual and empirical foundations of his morphology; to seek for the place and role of his approach in contemporary research and education in biology; and finally to point out its ethical implications in questions of environmental and ecological public awareness.

The format of the Conference is a threefold-integrated whole, in keeping with the content and arrangement of the morphological notebooks.

1. The History of Morphology:
In Goethe's time, scientific writings were usually accompanied by much-appreciated historical and autobiographical treatments. The eminent historian of science and Goethean scholar, Dorothea Kuhn, stressed this aspect of Goethe’s scientific writings, calling it the autobiographical principle. With that in mind, we would like to explore the original intention and meaning for morphology itself.

2. The Philosophy of Morphology:
Central to Goethe's conception of Form is his “anschauende Urteilskraft.” This epistemic principle permeates the entire On Morpology and prescribes the method of morphological research (“vergleichende und entwickelnde Methode”).

3. The Science of Morphology:
We would like to address the content of morphology through presentations of contemporary work and to evaluate the relevance of these concepts in current scientific fields. To what extent should the science of morphology be reformed when facing debates such as those involving evo-devo and cladistic research programs?

The topic of each day will be covered by invited keynote speakers and group-discussions.

The conference will be held in both German and English.

More Information:

Website of the Research Institute