Darwinism and Functional Biology, Other Sciences, and the Humanities

International Workshop, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem, Israel

March 30th — April 1st, 2009

The Jacques Loeb Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva in collaboration with The Einstein Center, and The Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The year 2009 sees not only the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work On the Origin of Species, but is also the 150th anniversary of Jacques Loeb’s birth.

The Jacques Loeb Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in cooperation with the Einstein Center and Edelstein Center at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Leo Baeck Institute, London, are marking these three anniversaries with this International Workshop.

Jacques Loeb was a seminal figure in experimental biology who, despite appreciating Darwin’s theory of evolution in principle, remained sceptical from the point of view of an experimental scientist. It is thus appropriate that the workshop will explore the tensions as well as fruitful relationships arising from Darwin’s concept of evolution through natural selection in functional biology, various experimental sciences and the humanities until the present day.

The contributions deal with:

– Darwinian principles and research in genetics, developmental biology, immunology, and biochemistry in history and the present

– the relationship of Darwinism to mathematics and non-biological sciences, particularly geology and chemistry

– the relationship of Darwinism to research in the humanities and social sciences

Admission is free. Further information is available from [email protected]


Monday, March 30th, 2009

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Sara Tadmor Auditorium


Welcome to Participants: Jimmy Weinblatt, Rector, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

“Evolution and Genetics”


Michel Morange: Ecole normale sup?rieure, Paris. “How Evolutionary Biology Presently Pervades Cell and Molecular Biology.”

Dan Mishmar: Ben-Gurion University. “Genetic Aspects of Evolutionary Processes: The ‘power-plant of the cell’ (Mitochondria) as a Model.”

Ute Deichmann: Ben-Gurion University and University of Cologne. “‘Gemmules’ and ‘Elements’: On Darwin’s and Mendel’s Conceptions and Practices in Heredity.”

12:30-14:00 Lunch Break


Greetings: Rivka Carmi, President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Introduction: Michel Morange: Ecole normale superieure, Paris

KEYNOTE LECTURE: Eric Davidson: Caltech, Pasadena

Commentator: Siegfried Roth: University of Cologne.

16:00-16:30 Coffee Break


Alan Templeton: University of Michigan. “Using Evolutionary Principles to Identify Genes Associated with Common Diseases in Humans.”

Nadav Davidovitch: Ben-Gurion University. “Evolutionary Medicine: A Missed Potential?”


Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Sara Tadmor Auditorium

“Darwin in Context” 1: Philosophical and Scientific


Yaron Ramati: London School of Economics, and Giora Hon: University of Haifa. “The Case for Emergence in Evolution.”

Siegfried Roth: University of Cologne. “Historical and Philosophical Comments on the Concept of Homology.”

Jeff Dodick: Hebrew University. “Perceptions of Geology within Science and the Education System.”

11:00-11:15 Coffee Break


Ulrich Charpa: University of Bochum, and Leo Baeck Institute London. “Whewell and Schleiden on Development and Evolution: A Comparison.”

Helmut Pulte: University of Bochum. “Darwin and the Exact Sciences”

12:45-14:00 Lunch Break


Susie Fisher: Open University of Israel. “Are RNA Viruses Vestiges of an RNA world? Historical Perspectives and Current Views.”

Haim Gilon: Hebrew University. “Combinatorial Chemistry: A Darwinian Concept?”

15:30-15:45 Coffee Break


Haim Marantz: Ben-Gurion University. “Herbert Spencer’s On Education: A Critical Re-examination.”

Frank J. (Yeruham) Leavitt: Ben-Gurion University. “Bertrand Russell on Charles Darwin”

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Sidney M. Edelstein Center, Levy Building, Givat Ram

“Darwin in Context” 2: Knowledge and Evolution


Raphael Falk: Hebrew University. “Lamarck, Darwin and How Not to Teach Genetics”

Jeff Dodick: Hebrew University. “Methodological Differences Between the Historical and Experimental Sciences.”

Coffee Break 10:30-11:00


Tony Travis: Ben-Gurion University: “Raphael Meldola, Field Naturalist, and ‘several professors, a great many butterfly fanciers, and gentlemen who visited the Forest in pursuit of the insect tribe!'”

Rony Armon: Ben-Gurion University. “Joseph Needham’s Theory of Evolution: Biochemical Recapitulation, Spencerian Emergence, and Functional Evolution in the 1920s.”

12:30-14:00 Lunch Break


Alan Templeton: University of Michigan. “Evolutionary Biology and Conservation Biology: Using Evolutionary Principles to Save Endangered Species.”

Ayelet Shavit: Tel Hai College, Upper Galilee. “A Tale of Two Databases: Do Different Evolutionary Perspectives Shape a Different Species’ ‘Locality’?”

Coffee Break 15:30-16:00


Ruth Lorand: University of Haifa. “Darwin’s Theory of Beauty.”

Simcha Rozen: Hebrew University. “Darwin’s Quest: Naturalizing God and Deifying Nature.”