University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

History of Science and Technology/Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science Colloquium

Friday, April 10th 2009
Speaker: Richard Burkhardt, Department of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Subject: Studying Behavior Biologically: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and the Founding of Ethology
Refreshments served in Room 216 Physics at 3:15 p.m.

Ethology, the biological study of behavior, emerged as a modern scientific discipline in the 20th century thanks to the efforts of the Austrian biologist Konrad Lorenz and his Dutch counterpart Niko Tinbergen. As opposed to the collaboration of the famous twosome of James Watson and Frick Crick, which lasted only a year and a half, Lorenz and Tinbergen were critically engaged with one another for roughly four decades. This lecture explores the 20th-century origins of the discipline of ethology, paying particular attention to the interaction between Lorenz and Tinbergen, how their relations were affected by their contrasting wartime allegiances, and the enduring effects their respective research practices had on their views of what ethology was and what it could become.

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