Movie: Gregory Rupik | Goethe, Organisms, and Biology Today
Challenges to the gene-centric, reductionist foundations of contemporary biology have increased in frequency and strength over the last few decades, and calls for an "organism-centric" biology have been sounded by biologists and philosophers alike. Greg Rupik's research focuses on the biological works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (better known as a poet than as a scientist!) and many of his contemporaries, and argues that the German "Romantic biology" that Goethe contributed to at the turn of the 19th century is a fecund resource for the current challenge of rethinking biology with organisms, not genes, at its center. Importantly, Goethe's biology is compatible with mechanical explanations, eschews dualistic vitalism, rejects religiously-inflected teleology, is grounded in evolutionary processes, and affords organisms an active role in their development.
Greg is completing his PhD at the University of Toronto's Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. To follow Greg's research, follow him on Twitter: @GregoryRupik