In the context of evolutionary developmental biology, epigenetics and phylogenetic research, where development and generative processes of organismal form are considered, the Goethean motto; Form (μορφή) as Formation (Bildung) and Transformation (Umbildung), provides morphology with a new meaning. The seminal research program that Goethe conceived under the rubric of Morphology does not include development; rather it is the science of development itself. It has become a keyword among contemporary biologists proclaiming its renaissance in our understanding of evolution. Consequently, it is also not surprising that Goethe has been cited by many plant developmental geneticists, due to a number of findings that could possibly, by way of molecular models and experimental tests, corroborate the foreseen ideas in his essay “An Attempt to Explain the Metamorphosis of Plants” published in 1790.
Moreover, the Goethean concept of Bildung carries in its core an educational aspect, which invites the morphologist to engage, develop and evolve her/his cognitive capacities in an intentional kind of process one could call Participation. Goethe himself proposed in one of his Maxims and Reflections, a Delicate Empiricism connecting with the conceptual content of a phenomenon. Thus, morphology is a participatory science, in so far as it provides the possibility of recognizing the intrinsic correlation between mind and form, and it is simultaneously a Morphology of Human Knowledge.
Therefore, besides celebrating the 200 years of the publication of Goethe’s morphological notebooks, “On Natural Science in General, Morphology in Particular”, the aim of the conference is firstly to trace back Goethe’s inceptions of the original dynamic way of seeing by revisiting the conceptual and empirical foundations of his morphology; secondly, to prospect for its place and role in contemporary research and education in biology; and finally, to point out its ethical implications in questions of environmental and ecological public awareness.
Johannes Kühl, João Felipe Toni, Ruth Richter & the Team of the Natural Science Section
For Registration and Materials: click HERE.