Konrad Lorenz (1981) - The Foundations of Ethology (German Presentation)

Konrad Lorenz (1981)

The Foundations of Ethology (German Presentation)

Konrad Lorenz (1981)

The Foundations of Ethology (German Presentation)

Comment

Konrad Lorenz lectured three times at the Lindau Meetings and the present lecture is the last of the three. Lorenz had a close working relationship with his co-bird watcher Nikolaas Tinbergen, who was in the audience. Together they made up a winning team (with Karl von Frisch working more independently with bees). In this team, Lorenz in some sense played the role of the theoretician and Tinbergen the role of the experimentalist. This does not mean that Lorenz did his research work at his desk with Tinbergen roaming around the countryside. Both spent considerable time performing the classical work of the ethologist, “watching and wondering”. But it was Tinbergen who experimentally tested many of the ideas that Lorenz got by watching animals. In his lecture, Lorenz first presented a concise history of the science that he himself gave the name “ethology”. In his opinion ethology could have become an established research field much earlier, since already Charles Darwin had understood the foundations. But progress was hampered by conflicts between vitalists and mechanists and the deadlock was not broken until the early 1900’s, by men such as Charles Whitman and Oskar Heinroth, before Lorenz himself came onto the scene. In the second part of the lecture, Lorenz decribes some of the basic concepts used in ethology and at the very end he generously hands over some questions to the younger generation.

Anders Bárány

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