Robert J. Richards

Morris Fishbein Distinguished Service Professor of Science and Medicine
Director, The Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine
Professor of History, Philosophy, and Psychology

(773) 702-8348

Professor Richards does research in the history and philosophy of psychology and biology. This includes particular interest in evolutionary biopsychology, ethology, and sociobiology, as well as theories of perception from the ancient period to the present day. Concerning philosophic and metahistoric problems, he has argued for a revaluation of evolutionary ethics and have developed a natural selection model for historiographic analysis. His recent research has been on the impact of the German Romantic movement on philosophy and science (particularly biology). He have just finished a work on the development of evolutionary theory in Germany during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Publications include:

  • Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior. University of Chicago Press, 1987 (Winner of the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society).
  • The Meaning of Evolution: The Morphological Construction and Ideological Reconstruction of Darwin’s Theory. University of Chicago Press, 1992.
  • The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe. University of Chicago Press, 2002.
  • The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought. University of Chicago Press, 2008.
  • Cambridge Companion to the Origin of Species, 2009, edited with Michael Ruse.
  • “Darwinian Enchantment,” in Secular Enchantment, ed. George Levine (Princeton University Press, 2010).
  • Darwin’s Place in the History of Biology – a Re-evaluation,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 106, Supplement 1 (June, 2009) 10056-10060.
  • “The Tragic Sense of Ernst Haeckel: His Scientific and Artistic Struggles,” (2009) in catalogue of the exhibition “Darwin – Art and the Search for Origins” (2009), Shirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany.
  • “Myth: That Darwin and Haeckel were Complicit in Nazi Biology,” in Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion, ed. Ronald L. Numbers (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009).
  • “Haeckel’s Embryos: Fraud Not Proven”, Biology and Philosophy, 24 (2009): 147-154.
  • “Nature is the Poetry of Mind, or How Schelling Solved Goethe’s Kantian Problems,” in Michael Friedman and Alfred Nordman (eds.), The Kantian Legacy in Nineteenth-Century Science ( Cambridge : MIT Press, 2006): 27-50.
  • “Ernst Haeckel and the Struggles over Evolution and Religion,” Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology 10 (2005): 89-116
  • “The Aesthetic and Morphological Foundations of Ernst Haeckel’s Evolutionary Project,” in Mary Kemperink and Patrick Dassen (eds.), The Many Faces of Evolution in Europe, 1860-1914 ( Amsterdam : Peeters, 2005), pp. 1-16 + plates.
  • “The Narrative Structure of Moral Judgments in History: Evolution and Nazi Biology,” (2005 Ryerson Lecture) The University of Chicago Record 39 (May 26, 2005).
  • “Darwin’s Metaphysics of Mind,” in Darwin and Philosophy , ed. Vittorio Hoesle and Christian Illies (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 2005), pp. 166-80.
  • “The Erotic Authority of Nature: Nature, Science, and the Female during Goethe’s Italian Journey,” in The Moral Authority of Nature, ed. Lorraine Daston and Fernando Vidal (University of Chicago Press, 2003).
  • “Biology,” in From Natural Philosophy to the Sciences: Writing the History of Nineteenth-Century Science, ed. David Cahan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), pp. 16-48.
  • “Evolution of Mind, Behavior, and Emotions,” in Jonathan Hodge and Gregory Radick (eds.), Cambridge Companion to Darwin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 92-115.
  • “Linguistic Creation of Man: Charles Darwin, August Schleicher, Ernst Haeckel, and the Missing Link in 19th-Century Evolutionary Theory,” in Experimenting in Tongues: Studies in Science and Language, ed. Matthias Doerres (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001)
  • “Psychology as a Humanism,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 37 (2001): 61-66.
  • “Kant and Blumenbach on the Bildungstrieb: A Historical Misunderstanding,” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biology and Biomedical Sciences 31 (2000): 11-32.
  • “Rhapsodies on a Cat-Piano, or Johann Christian Reil and the Foundations of Romantic Psychiatry,” Critical Inquiry 24, no. 3 (spring, 1998): 700-736.