Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
E251 Corson Hall
I will discuss the interrelationships among evolutionary history, esthetics, natural history, and our informed appreciation of nature—encapsulated in Baba Dioum’s dictum that we will conserve what we love, love what we understand, and understand what we are taught. Darwin’s “descent with modification” provides the framework and explanation for the continuity of life through time, and a basis for understanding the hierarchy of similarities and differences among organisms. Kant’s distinction between beauty and the sublime offers an explanation for how our esthetic appreciation for individual organisms is enhanced by an understanding of their relationships to other living things and their environments. The raw details of life are at the heart of all that, such that natural history is both what we appreciate and enhances our appreciation for biological diversity. I will also argue that the practice of natural history, the search for those raw details, offers a special brand of personal contentment.
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