Science, Technology & Society at Bar-Ilan University

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Biology and Progress (27875) | Prof. Oren Harman

 What is progress? It’s a difficult question. Historically, many a thinker and many a discipline have offered their answers. In this course we examine one of the more interesting prisms: that of the changing definitions of “Progress” in biology in the last 200 years. Alongside the work of biologists during this period – from Cuvier, Lamarck, Darwin, Spencer and Huxley through Fisher, Haldane, Dobzhansky, Wright, Maynard Smith, Dawkins, Gould and others – we shall be attuned to the social, economic, and cultural rustlings as they instance themselves in utopias from Francis Bacon through Condorcet, Saint Simon, Godwin, Wells, Alduous Huxley, Skinner, and Ursula La Guin. As we read these two literatures, we begin to see the intricate ways in which biological and social thought influence one another, and how the clear separation between the two categories, and the kinds of distinct tools at the disposal of each, become blurred.