4 June, 2020, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Coral – or, How a Fragile Enigma Brings Lessons from the Shallows

Ellen Clarke & Emily Herring


All Welcome

The Great Barrier Reef has become one of the symbols of the devastating effects of human-caused global warming and pollution, but over the past few centuries, naturalists such as Charles Darwin have taken an interest in coral for a whole variety of reasons. In addition to being at the centre of the “mechanism/vitalism” debate in the early decades of the 20th century, about whether organisms were nothing more than complex machines, the study of marine invertebrates such as coral was the starting point for the philosophical reflections of several 19th- and 20th-century biologists on problems such as biological individuality. In telling this story, this lecture shows how these beautiful and endangered life forms provoke still unresolved philosophical problems about life and our knowledge of it.

Click here to watch Ellen Clarke and Emily Herring’s lecture

Then, if that fires your imagination and curiousity, why not join the online discussion group at 4pm Thur 4th June. For details of how to access the discussion group, please click here.

This lecture is the 14th in a series of 20 as part of a free online course offering an introduction to the History of Science by the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds.