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Profile: Robert Richards (University of Chicago)
Profile: Robert Richards
  1. Robert J. Richards, American Scientist.
    In 1914, James Leuba, a psychologist at Bryn Mawr, conducted several surveys of scientists and college students regarding their religious beliefs, publishing his findings in a 1916 book titled The Belief in God and Immortality. Among scientists generally, 41.8 percent indicated they were believers in a personal God (defined as a being to whom one could pray, expecting a response), whereas 41.5 percent expressed disbelief in such a God and 16.7 percent declared themselves to be agnostic. Among elite scientists (those (...)
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  2. Robert J. Richards, Ernst Haeckel and the Struggles Over Evolution and Religion.
    If religion means a commitment to a set of theological propositions regarding the nature of God, the soul, and an afterlife, Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was never a religious enthusiast. The influence of the great religious thinker Friedrich Daniel Schleiermacher (1768-1834) on his family kept religious observance decorous and commitment vague.2 The theologian had maintained that true religion lay deep in the heart, where the inner person experienced a feeling of absolute dependence. Dogmatic tenets, he argued, served merely as inadequate symbols (...)
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  3. Robert J. Richards, Historiography and the Cultural Study of Nineteenth-Century Biology.
    Historians, the good ones, mark a century by intellectual and social boundaries rather than by the turn of the calendar page. Only through fortuitous accident might occasions of consequence occur at the very beginning of a century. Imaginative historians do tend, however, to invest a date like 1800 with powers that attract events of significance. It is thus both fortunate and condign that Abiology@ came to linguistic and conceptual birth with the new century. Precisely in 1800, Karl Friedrich Burdach, a (...)
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  4. Robert J. Richards, If This Be Heresy: Haeckel=s Conversion to Darwinism.
    Just before Ernst Haeckel’s death in 1919, historians began piling on the faggots for a splendid auto-da-fé. Though more people prior to the Great War learned of Darwin’s theory through his efforts than through any other source, including Darwin himself, Haeckel has been accused of not preaching orthodox Darwinian doctrine. In 1916, E. S. Russell, judged Haeckel's principal theoretical work, Generelle Morphologie der Organismen, as "representative not so much of Darwinian as of pre-Darwinian thought."1 Both Stephen Jay Gould and (...) Bowler endorse this evaluation, and see as an index of Haeckel’s heterodox deviation his use of the biogenetic law that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.2 Michael Ruse, without much analysis, simply proclaims that “Haeckel and friends were not true Darwinians.”3 These historians locate the problem in Haeckel’s inclinations toward Naturphilosophie and in his adoption of the kind of Romantic attitudes characterizing the earlier biology of Goethe. These charges of heresy assume, of course, that Darwin’s own theory harbors no taint of Romanticism and that it consequently remains innocent of the doctrine of recapitulation. I think both assumptions quite.. (shrink)
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  5. Robert J. Richards, In the History of Science.
    Though Darwin had formulated his theory of evolution by natural selection by early fall of 1837, he did not publish it until 1859 in the Origin ofSpecies. Darwin thus delayed publicly revealing his theory for some twenty years, Why did he wait so long'? Initially this may not seem an important or interesting question, but many historians have so regarded it, They have developed a variety of historiographically different explanations. This essay considers these several explanations, though with a larger purpose (...)
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  6. Robert J. Richards, Nature is the Poetry of Mind, or How Schelling Solved Goethe's Kantian Problems.
    In 1853, two decades after Goethe’s death, Hermann von Helmholtz, who had just become professor of anatomy at Königsberg, delivered an evaluation of the poet=s contributions to science.1 The young Helmholtz lamented Goethe=s stubborn rejection of Newton=s prism experiments. Goethe=s theory of light and color simply broke on the rocks of his poetic genius. The tragedy, though, was not repeated in biological science. In Helmholtz=s estimation, Goethe had advanced in this area two singular and “uncommonly fruitful” ideas.2 The poet (...)
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  7. Robert J. Richards, The Erotic Authority of Nature: Science, Art, and the Female During Goethe=s Italian Journey.
    In a late reminiscence, Goethe recalled that during his close association with the poet Friedrich Schiller, he was constantly defending “the rights of nature" against his friend's “gospel of freedom.”1 Goethe’s characterization of his own view was artfully ironic, alluding as it did to the French Revolution's proclamation of the "Rights of Man." His remark implied that values lay within nature, values that had authority comparable to those ascribed to human beings by the architects of the Revolution. During the time (...)
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  8. Robert J. Richards, The Foundation of Ernst Haeckel's Evolutionary Project in Morphology, Aesthetics, and Tragedy.
    In late winter of 1864, Charles Darwin received two folio volumes on radiolarians, a group of one-celled marine organisms that secreted siliceous skeletons of unusual geometry. The author, the young German biologist Ernst Haeckel (fig. 1), had himself drawn the figures for the extraordinary copper-etched illustrations that filled the second volume.1 The gothic beauty of the plates astonished Darwin (fig. 2 ), but he must also have been drawn to passages that applied his theory to construct the descent relations of (...)
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  9. Robert J. Richards, The German Reception of Darwin's Theory, 1860-1945.
    When Charles Darwin (1859, 482) wrote in the Origin of Species that he looked to the “young and rising naturalists” to heed the message of his book, he likely had in mind individuals like Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), who responded warmly to the invitation (Haeckel, 1862, 1: 231-32n). Haeckel became part of the vanguard of young scientists who plowed through the yielding turf to plant the seed of Darwinism deep into the intellectual soil of Germany. As Haeckel would later observe, the (...)
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  10. Robert J. Richards, The Impact of German Romanticism on Biology in the Nineteenth Century.
    Many revolutionary proposals entered the biological disciplines during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, theories that provided the foundations for today’s science and gave structure to its various branches. Cell theory, evolutionary theory, and genetics achieved their modern form during this earlier time. The period also saw a variety of new, auxiliary hypotheses that supplied necessary supports for the more comprehensive theories. These included ideas in morphology, embryology, systematics, language, and behavior. These scientific developments forced a reconceptualization of nature and (...)
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  11. Robert J. Richards, The Quarterly Review of Biology Volume 83 (December, 2008): 396-98.
    Quite early in the construction of his theory, Darwin realized that he had to explain the distinctive features of the human animal to forestall the return of the Creator. For most British intellectuals, what distinguished man from animals was not reason, an operation in which faint sensory images followed the rules of association, but moral judgment. Thus, shortly after he first formulated the principle of natural selection in the fall of 1838, Darwin began a decades-long struggle to bring human moral (...)
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  12. Robert J. Richards, The Relation of Spencer's Evolutionary Theory to Darwin's.
    Our image of Herbert Spencer is that of a bald, dyspeptic bachelor, spending his days in rooming houses, and fussing about government interference with individual liberties. Beatrice Webb, who knew him as a girl and young woman recalls for us just this picture. In her diary for January 4, 1885, she writes: Royal Academy private view with Herbert Spencer. His criticisms on art dreary, all bound down by the “possible” if not probable. That poor old man would miss (...)
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  13. Robert J. Richards, Was Hitler a Darwinian?
    Several scholars and many religiously conservative thinkers have recently charged that Hitler’s ideas about race and racial struggle derived from the theories of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), either directly or through intermediate sources. So, for example, the historian Richard Weikart, in his book From Darwin to Hitler , maintains: “No matter how crooked the road was from Darwin to Hitler, clearly Darwinism and eugenics smoothed the path for Nazi ideology, especially for the Nazi stress on expansion, war, racial struggle, and racial (...)
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  14. Robert J. Richards, Darwin's Place in the History of Thought: A Re-Evaluation.
    Scholars have usually given Darwin’s theory a neo-Darwinian interpretation. A more careful examination of the language of Darwin’s notebooks and the language of the Origin of Species indicates that he reconstructed nature with a definite purpose: the final goal of man as a moral creature. In the aftermath of the Origin, Darwin, however, became more circumspect.
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  15. Robert J. Richards, The Descent of Man.
    Who can divine the intentions of the human heart, the motives that guide behavior? Some of the reasons for our actions lie on the surface of consciousness, whereas others are more deeply embedded in the recesses of the mind. Recovering motives and intentions is a principal job of the historian. For without some attribution of mental attitudes, actions cannot be characterized and decisions assessed. The same overt behavior, after all, might be described as “mailing a letter” or “fomenting a revolution.” (...)
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  16. Alan C. Love, Robert J. Richards & Peter J. Bowler (forthcoming). What-If History of Science. Metascience:1-20.
    Alan C. LoveDarwinian calisthenicsAn athlete engages in calisthenics as part of basic training and as a preliminary to more advanced or intense activity. Whether it is stretching, lunges, crunches, or push-ups, routine calisthenics provide a baseline of strength and flexibility that prevent a variety of injuries that might otherwise be incurred. Peter Bowler has spent 40 years doing Darwinian calisthenics, researching and writing on the development of evolutionary ideas with special attention to Darwin and subsequent filiations among scientists exploring evolution (...)
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  17. Robert J. Richards (2012). Darwin's Principles of Divergence and Natural Selection: Why Fodor Was Almost Right. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):256-268.
    In a series of articles and in a recent book, What Darwin Got Wrong, Jerry Fodor has objected to Darwin’s principle of natural selection on the grounds that it assumes nature has intentions.1 Despite the near universal rejection of Fodor’s argument by biologists and philosophers of biology (myself included),2 I now believe he was almost right. I will show this through a historical examination of a principle that Darwin thought as important as natural selection, his principle of divergence. The principle (...)
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  18. Robert J. Richards (2009). Haeckel's Embryos: Fraud Not Proven. Biology and Philosophy 24 (1):147-154.
    Through the last half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth, no scientist more vigorously defended Darwinian theory than the German Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919). More people learned of the new ideas through his voluminous publications, translated into numerous languages, than through any other source, including Darwin’s own writings. He enraged many of his contemporaries, especially among the religiously orthodox; and the enmity between evolutionary theory and religious fundamentalism that still burns brightly today may in large measure (...)
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  19. Michael Ruse & Robert J. Richards (eds.) (2009). The Cambridge Companion to the "Origin of Species". Cambridge University Press.
    The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is universally recognized as one of the most important science books ever written. Published in 1859, it was here that Darwin argued for both the fact of evolution and the mechanism of natural section. The Origin of Species is also a work of great cultural and religious significance, in that Darwin maintained that all organisms, including humans, are part of a natural process of growth from simple forms. This Companion commemorates the 150th anniversary (...)
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  20. Robert J. Richards (2007). Goethe's Use of Kant in the Erotics of Nature. In Philippe Huneman (ed.), Understanding Purpose: Kant and the Philosophy of Biology. University of Rochester Press. 8--137.
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  21. Robert J. Richards (2005). Darwin's Metaphysics of Mind. In V. Hoesle & C. Illies (eds.), Darwin and Philosophy. Notre Dame University Press. 166-80.
    Our image of Darwin is hardly that of a German metaphysician. By reason of his intellectual tradition—that of British empiricism—and psychological disposition, he was a man of apparently more stolid character, one who could be excited by beetles and earthworms but not, we assume, by abstruse philosophy. Yet Darwin constructed a theory of evolution whose conceptual grammar expresses and depends on a certain kind of metaphysics. During his youthful period as a romantic adventurer, he sailed to exotic lands and returned (...)
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  22. Robert J. Richards (2004). Michael Ruse's Design for Living. Journal of the History of Biology 37 (1):25 - 38.
    The eminent historian and philosopher of biology, Michael Ruse, has written several books that explore the relationship of evolutionary theory to its larger scientific and cultural setting. Among the questions he has investigated are: Is evolution progressive? What is its epistemological status? Most recently, in "Darwin and Design: Does Evolution have a Purpose?," Ruse has provided a history of the concept of teleology in biological thinking, especially in evolutionary theorizing. In his book, he moves quickly from Plato and Aristotle to (...)
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  23. Robert J. Richards (2003). 4 Darwin on Mind, Morals and Emotions. In J. Hodges & Gregory Radick (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Darwin. Cambridge University Press. 92.
  24. Robert J. Richards (2000). Kant and Blumenbach on the Bildungstrieb: A Historical Misunderstanding. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 31 (1):11-32.
  25. Robert J. Richards (1999). The Nature and Necessity of Cultural History of Science. Modern Schoolman 76 (2-3):221-233.
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  26. Robert J. Richards (1998). Rhapsodies on a Cat-Piano, or Johann Christian Reil and the Foundations of Romantic Psychiatry. Critical Inquiry 24 (3):700.
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  27. Robert J. Richards (1994). The Meaning of Evolution: The Morphological Construction and Ideological Reconstruction of Darwin's Theory. Philosophy of Science 61 (4):672.
     
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  28. Robert J. Richards (1993). Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Evolutionary Ethics. In Matthew Nitecki & Doris Nitecki (eds.), Evolutionary Ethics. Suny Press. 113--131.
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  29. Robert J. Richards (1993). Ideology and the History of Science. Biology and Philosophy 8 (1):103-108.
    discipline a general science of our "intellectual faculties, their principal phenomena, and the more remarkable circumstances of their activities" (1801, p. 4). Convinced of the sensationalist epistemology of Locke and Condillac, Destutt de Tracy believed one could resolve all ideas into the sensations that produced them and thereby test their soundness. The sensationalist assumptions of his project led him to propose that "ideology is a part of zoology" (1801, p. 1), and he consequently paid close attention to the way physiological..
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  30. Robert J. Richards (1992). Arguments in a Sartorial Mode, or the Asymmetries of History and Philosophy of Science. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:482 - 489.
    History of science and philosophy of science are not perfectly complementary disciplines. Several important asymmetries govern their relationship. These asymmetries, concerning levels of analysis, evidence, theories, writing, and training show that to be a decent philosopher of science is more difficult than being a decent historian. But to be a good historian-well, the degree of difficulty is reversed.
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  31. Robert J. Richards (1989). Dutch Objections to Evolutionary Ethics. Biology and Philosophy 4 (3):331-343.
    While strolling the streets of Amsterdam, Sidney Smith, the renowned editor of the Edinburgh Review, called the attention of his companion to two Dutch housewives who were leaning out of their windows and arguing with one another across the narrow alley that separated their houses. Smith remarked to his companion that the two women would never agree. His friend thought the seasoned editor had in mind the stubborn Dutch character. No, said Smith. Rather it was because they were arguing from (...)
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  32. Robert J. Richards (1986). Justification Through Biological Faith: A Rejoinder. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 1 (3):337-354.
    Though I have not found enough of the latter to test out this bromide, I am sensible of the value bestowed by colleagues who have taken such exacting care in analyzing my arguments. While their incisive observation and hard objections threaten to leave an extinct theory, I hope the reader will rather judge it one strengthened by adversity. Let me initially expose the heart of my argument so as to make obvious the shocks it must endure. I ask the reader (...)
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  33. Robert J. Richards, Christian Wolff's Prolegomena to Empirical and Rational Psychology: Translation and Commentary.
    Though not the first to use the term "psychology" (psychologia), ' Christian Wolff did give it currency in the mid-eighteenth century. He was the first to mark off the discipline of empirical psychology and to distinguish it from rational, or theoretical, psychology. This distinction and his conception of the two corresponding methods of conducting psychological inquiry, especially his emphasis on the use of introspection, profoundly inffuenced the course of psychological..
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  34. Robert J. Richards (1982). Life and Man in Darwin's Universe The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Charles Darwin Life in Darwin's Universe: Evolution and the Cosmos Gene Bylinsky. BioScience 32 (6):541-542.
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  35. Robert J. Richards (1981). Instinct and Intelligence in British Natural Theology: Some Contributions to Darwin's Theory of the Evolution of Behavior. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 14 (2):193 - 230.
    In late September 1838, Darwin read Malthus's Essay on Population, which left him with “a theory by which to work.”115 Yet he waited some twenty years to publish his discovery in the Origin of Species. Those interested in the fine grain of Darwin's development have been curious about this delay. One recent explanation has his hand stayed by fear of reaction to the materialist implications of linking man with animals. “Darwin sensed,” according to Howard Gruber, “that some would object to (...)
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  36. Robert J. Richards (1977). The Natural Selection Model of Conceptual Evolution. Philosophy of Science 44 (3):494-501.
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  37. Robert J. Richards (1976). James Gibson's Passive Theory of Perception: A Rejection of the Doctrine of Specific Nerve Energies. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 37 (December):218-233.
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  38. Robert J. Richards (1974). The Innate and the Learned: The Evolution of Konrad Lorenz's Theory of Instinct. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 4 (2):111-133.
  39. Robert J. Richards (1973). Sellars' Kantian Perspective on the Compatibility of Freedom and Determinism. Southern Journal of Philosophy 11 (3):228-236.
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  40. Robert J. Richards (1972). Materialism and Natural Events in Dewey's Developing Thought. Journal of the History of Philosophy 10 (1):55-69.
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