Introduction to the second special issue in commemoration of Olaf Breidbach

Theory in Biosciences, May 2017

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Introduction to the second special issue in commemoration of Olaf Breidbach

Several obituaries have been pub- lished, like Bach Introduction to the second special issue in commemoration of Olaf Breidbach Ju¨ rgen Jost 0 1 0 Santa Fe Institute for the Sciences of Complexity , Santa Fe , USA 1 Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences , Leipzig , Germany - for him was not just factual or procedural knowledge, but an active process of structuring the world, be it the building plan encoded in a genome, the environment of an organism, the world that a brain could passively sense or actively influence, the process of scientific discoveries and intellectual discourses, the culture and tradition of a society, or the perspective of a philosophical system. For him, knowledge went beyond the internal representation of an outside world, but it was rather a constructive process inside a system, see e.g. Breidbach et al. (1996). It also included practical aspects, like the technical abilities on which modern experimental science was built, or the schemes of displaying objects in collections and museums. Knowledge and its generation, construction and function were the topic of many of his monographs, like Breidbach (1994, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2010); Ziemke and Breidbach (1996), and also of his friends, like Neuser (2013). As the director of the Ernst-Haeckel-Haus in Jena for 20 years, Olaf Breidbach did fundamental work on Ernst Haeckel, both from the perspective of the history of science and from conceptual thinking in evolution. In particular, he edited many of Haeckel’s works, see for instance Breidbach (1996, 1998, 2006, 2012), and he described and analyzed Haeckel’s work, for instance in Breidbach (2002, 2006). In his studies, Olaf Breidbach also addressed the problematic views of Haeckel. The contributions ‘‘The Biogenetic Law in zoology: from Ernst Haeckels formulation to current approaches’’ by L. Olsson, G.S. Levit and U. Hossfeld (doi: 10.1007/ s12064-017-0243-4) traces the development of Haeckel’s famous law that the ontogeny recapitulates the phylogeny (see e.g. Breidbach (1995)) and relates it to subsequent and modern concepts like the ‘‘hourglass model’’. The article ‘‘From Goethes plant archetype via Haeckels biogenetic law to plant evo-devo 2016’’ by K.Niklas and U.Kutschera (doi: 10.1007/s12064-016-0237-7) covers an even wider perspective, from Goethe’s original concept of an archetype underlying all plants and manifested in different versions in actual plants to the modern concepts of evo-devo, linking evolutionary and developmental biology. Precisely such a link had been the aim of Haeckel’s biogenetic law, and it is of great interest to see how the underlying concepts and structures have changed over the course of two centuries on the basis of new biological insight. The theory of evolution, one of whose pioneers Ernst Haeckel was, is often attacked by the so-called creationists, typically with rather unscientific arguments. The article ‘‘Beyond borders: on the influence of the creationist movement on the educational landscape in the USA and Russia’’ by E. Watts, U. Hossfeld, I. Tolstikova and G.S. Levit (doi: 10.1007/s12064-016-0238-6) traces the development of that movement in the United States and its spreading to Russia after the end of the communist era. It had been a major discovery of Olaf Breidbach and his colleagues, see Simunek et al. (2011), that the work of Gregor Mendel had not been completely forgotten when genes were rediscovered in 1900. Some of the scientists that played a key role in this process, the brothers Armin and Erich von Tschermak-Seysenegg, had been aware of Mendel’s work all the time. This was found from their correspondence. This issue is further explored in the contribution ‘‘Armin von Tschermak-Seysenegg (1870–1952): Physiologist and Co-Rediscoverer of Mendels laws’’ by M. V. Simunek, M. Mielewczik, G. S. Levit and U. Hossfeld (doi: 10.1007/s12064-016-0236-8) on the basis of new archival evidence. Within the theory of evolution and more generally theoretical biology, a key question that Olaf Breidbach pursued was that of the relation between the structural descriptions of morphology and the underlying biological functions and processes. The basic concept here is that of a character, and on the basis of discussions with Olaf Breidbach spanning several decades, characters and their relations are analyzed in my contribution ‘‘Relations and dependencies between morphological characters’’. doi: 10. 1007/s12064-017-0248-z from a mathematical perspective, trying to link the taxonomic approach with current insight in developmental biology. Taxonomic characters constitute the basis of biological classification schemes. Dependencies between characters can arise from structural constraints as well as functional correlations. The character concept, therefore, leads us to one of the most fundamental biological issues, the relation between structure and function of biological taxa and lineages. Certainly, Olaf Breidbach would have enjoyed all the contributions in this volume. 1. Bach T ( 2014 ) Olaf Breidbach (1957-2014) Sudhoffs Archiv . Zeitschrift fu¨r Wissenschaftsgeschichte 98 ( 2 ): 131 - 139 2. Bach T ( 2014 ) Prof. Dr. Dr. Olaf Breidbach. 8. November 1957 - 22. Juli 2014 . In: Goethe-Jahrbuch Bd. 231 ( 2014 ). Go¨ttingen 2015 , pp 264 - 266 3. Breidbach O ( 1997 ) Die Materialisierung des Ichs . Zur Geschichte der Hirnforschung im 19 . und 20.Jahrhundert, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt/M. 4. Breidbach O ( 2005 ) Bilder des Wissens: Zur Kulturgeschichte der wissenschaftlichen Wahrnehmung . W. Fink , Mu¨nchen 5. Breidbach O ( 2008 ) Neue Wissensordnungen . Wie aus Informationen und Nachrichten kulturelles Wissen entsteht . Suhrkamp, Frankfurt/M 6. Breidbach O ( 2011 ) Radikale Historisierung. Kulturelle Selbstversicherung im Postdarwinismus . Suhrkamp, Frankfurt/M. 7. Breidbach O ( 2013 ) Neuronale A¨ sthetik, Zur Morpho-Logik des Anschauens . W. Fink , Mu¨nchen 8. Breidbach O ( 2015 ) Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften . I: Die Antike, Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 9. Breidbach O ( 1995 ) Ontogenese versus Phylogenese. Zum Konzept einer entwicklungsmorphologisch fundierten Evolutionstheorie . In: Selbstorganisation. Jahrbuch fu¨r Komplexita¨t in den Natur-, Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften 6 ( 1995 ), published 1996 , pp 69 - 86 10. Breidbach O (ed) ( 1996 ) Ernst Haeckel: Studien zur GastraeaTheorie, Ernst-Haeckel-Haus-Studien zur Geschichte der Biowissenschaften und Medizin , vol 1. Jena, Druckhaus Mayer 11. Breidbach O (ed) ( 1998 ) Ernst Haeckel: Kunstformen der Natur . Prestel, Mu¨nchen 12. Breidbach O ( 2002 ) The former synthesis . Some remarks on the typological background of Haeckel's ideas about evolution . Theory Biosci 121 , 280 - 296 13. Breidbach O (ed) ( 2006 ) Ernst Haeckel: Bildwelten der Natur; English version: Visions of Nature . The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel . Prestel, Mu¨nchen 14. Breidbach O ( 2006 ) The conceptual framework of evolutionary morphology in the studies of Ernst Haeckel and Fritz Mu¨ller . Theory Biosc . 124 : 265 - 280 15. Breidbach O (ed) ( 2012 ) Ernst Haeckel: Kunstformen der Natur . Kunstformen aus dem Meer . Prestel, Mu¨nchen 16. Breidbach O et al (eds) ( 2010 ) Experimentelle Wissenschaftsgeschichte . W. Fink , Mu¨nchen 17. Breidbach O , Holthausen K , Jost J ( 1996 ) Interne Repra¨sentationen - U¨ ber die ''Welt''generierungseigenschaften des Nervengewebes . Prolegomena zu einer Neurosemantik . In: Ziemke A, Breidbach O (eds) Repra¨sentationismus . Vieweg, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden, pp. 177 - 195 18. Jost J ( 2014 ) Obituary for Olaf Breidbach . Theory Biosci . 133 : 125 - 128 . doi:10.1007/s12064- 014 - 0206 -y 19. Jost J ( 2016 ) Nachruf auf Olaf Breidbach . 8. November 1957 - 22. Juli 2014 , Zoologie, Mitteilungen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft , pp 73 - 84 20. Neuser W ( 2013 ) Wissen begreifen . Zur Selbstorganisation von Erfahrung , Handlung und Begriff, Springer, Wiesbaden 21. Simunek MV , Hossfeld U , Thu¨mmler F , Breidbach O ( 2011 ) Mendelian Dioskuri . Correspondence of Armin with Erich von Tschermak-Seysenegg , 1898 - 1951 (= Studies in the History of Sciences and Humanities , vol. 27 ), Praha 22. Ziemke A , Breidbach O (eds) ( 1996 ) Repra¨sentationismus . Vieweg, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden


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Introduction to the second special issue in commemoration of Olaf Breidbach, Theory in Biosciences, 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s12064-017-0247-0