Högre seminarium i vetenskapsfilosofi: Özlem Yılmaz Silverman (Stockholm)


Datum: torsdag 23 november 2023

Tid: 13.15 – 15.00

Plats: E210, Arrhenius Laboratoriet

Organicism, Now and Then: Plant Biology in the Early Twentieth Century


The concept of organism has gained renewed attention from the philosophers of biology in the last a few decades. In this talk, I will look at the concept in the early twentieth century, which is a crucial time for history and philosophy of biology, as well as consider the concept in today’s plant biology.

Many contemporary scholars argue that, contrary to the widespread idea that there were two main perspectives in biology at the dawn of the twentieth century, mechanism and vitalism, there was actually a third way: organicism. While the tradition of organicism in that time is mostly remembered through prominent scientists' work on animals, I am interested in how it was present in work on plants as well.

One of the plant biologists whom I will talk about is Agnes Arber (1879-1960), who is one of the most important plant biologists of the early and mid-twentieth century. She is known for her meticulous collection of morphological data and elaborated interpretation of this data in the light of both biology and philosophy literature.

I will draw on her interpretation of plant morphology and her work's place in plant biology in the early twentieth century. I will examine how her work engages with these three perspectives. Additionally, I will talk about the relations between different branches of plant biology in her time.