English Publications
Darwin / Darwinismus / Evolution
Kreationismus / Intelligent Design
Eugenik / Humangenetik / Gentechnik
Geschichte der Biologie
Publikationen / Publications
Wiss. Lebenslauf / Impressum

Thomas Junker. „Art as a biological adaptation, or: Why modern humans replaced the Neanderthals,” Quartär: Internationales Jahrbuch zur Erforschung des Eiszeitalters und der Steinzeit / International Yearbook for Ice Age and Stone Age Research 57 (2010).

Thomas Junker. „The downfall of civilised nations in the light of biology: Erwin Baur’s Darwinian Doomsday Science (1922/32),” Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology 13 (2008): 53-65.

Thomas Junker. „The Eclipse and Renaissance of Darwinism in German Biology (1900-1950).” In The Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe. 2 vols. Edited by Eve-Marie Engels and Thomas Glick. The Athlone Critical Traditions Series: The Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe. London: Continuum, 2008, vol. 2, pp. 482-503, 592-97.


Thomas Junker. „Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) and the New Philosophy of Biology,“
Journal for General Philosophy of Science 38 (2007): 1-17.

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Thomas Junker. „Ornithology and the genesis of the Synthetic Theory of Evolution,”
Avian Science 3, Nos 2 & 3 (2003): 65-73.

Abstract: During the 1930s and 1940s many of the controversies that had shaped the discussions about evolution for more than a century came to an end. This unification of evolutionary biology was achieved on a Darwinian basis. Together with selection, which was regarded as the only causal factor leading to adaptation, further evolutionary factors were integrated (mutation, recombination, drift, geographic isolation). This Synthetic Theory of Evolution or Synthetic Darwinism has dominated evolutionary biology since the early 1950s. In contrast to the situation during the nineteenth century, when leading ornithologists opposed Darwinian evolution, ornithologists played a central part in the formulation of the new model. Both Bernhard Rensch and Ernst Mayr based much of their evolutionary theorising on ornithological data. The British zoologist Julian Huxley did intense research on the ethology of birds. On the other hand the leading ornithologist Erwin Stresemann, teacher of both Rensch and Mayr, never really accepted Synthetic Darwinism. By comparing the theoretical views of Stresemann, Rensch, and Mayr, I will discuss in which respect ornithologists were especially prepared to appreciate the new genetical theory of evolution. 

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Thomas Junker & Uwe Hossfeld.
„The Architects of the Evolutionary Synthesis in National Socialist Germany: Science and Politics,“
Biology and Philosophy 17 (2002): 223-49.

The Synthetic Theory of Evolution (Synthetic Darwinism) was forged between 1925 and 1950. Several historians of science have pointed out that this synthesis was a joint venture of Soviet, German, American and British biologists: A fascinating example of scientific cooperation, considering the fact that the evolutionary synthesis emerged during the decades in which these countries were engaged in fierce political, military and ideological conflicts. The ideological background of its Anglo-American representatives has been analyzed in the literature. We have examined the scientific work and ideological commitments of the German Darwinians during the Third Reich. We based our analysis on four criteria: 1) General attitude towards the Third Reich. 2) Membership in the NSDAP and other national socialist organizations. Endorsement and disapproval of the state ideology in 3) scientific and 4) other publications. We will mainly discuss the various authors that have contributed to Die Evolution der Organismen (1943), a collection that represented the evolutionary synthesis in Germany. Most of the authors promoted eugenic ideas, but not all of them adopted the racist interpretation of the Third Reich. Another finding is that there existed no direct connection between party membership and promotion of the state ideology. 

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Wolf Ernst Reif, Thomas Junker & Uwe Hoßfeld.
„The Synthetic Theory of Evolution: General Problems and the German Contribution to the Synthesis,“

Theory in Bioscience
s 119 (2000): 41-91.

: Michael T. Ghiselin. “Evolutionary synthesis from a cosmopolitan point of view: a commentary on the ideas of Reif, Junker and Hossfeld,” Theory in Biosciences 120 (2001): 166-72.

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Thomas Junker.

„Critiques and Contentions: Blumenbach’s Racial Geometry,“
Isis 89 (1998): 498-501. 

"Recently a revised and expanded edition of Stephen Jay Gould’s classic The Mismeasure of Man has been published. [...] Gould claims that [... Johann Friedrich] Blumenbach has changed „the mental geometry of human order to a scheme that has promoted conventional racism ever since.“ (p. 405).

Gould’s central claim is that Blumenbach „ended up with a system (see the accompanying illustration from his treatise) that placed a single race at the pinnacle of closest approach to the original creation, and then envisioned two symmetrical lines of departure from this ideal toward greater and greater degeneration.“ (p. 410, emphasis added). [...] The illustration, however, is not from Blumenbach’s Treatises, but a construction by Gould. In the Treatises we find a completely different picture: a horizontal arrangement of the skulls. [...]

It is obvious that with the original illustration by Blumenbach Gould’s argument would have collapsed to a large extent. Of course, Blumenbach might have ‘implied’ a triangle that would have given a visual representation of his supposedly hierarchical model, and it was only Gould who has discovered this intention. Blumenbach, however, choose a horizontal arrangement [...].
In a way this misrepresentation seems to confirm the constructionist notion, mentioned by Gould, that „unconscious presupposition always influence our analysis and organization of presumably objective data“ (p. 49). On the other hand this cannot be taken as an excuse for an obvious distortion of historical facts based on modern projections."


Response: Stephen Jay Gould: „On Mental and Visual Geometry,“ Isis 89 (1998): 502-04.

"I thank Thomas Junker for his correction to the illustration of Blumenbach’s skulls that accompanies the reprint of my essay, originally written for Discover Magazine (1994), in the revised version of The Mismeasure of Man (1996). Blumenbach’s original depicts these skulls on a line, with the Caucasian example in the center. The version prepared by the Norton book designers converted this line into a wedge, with the Caucasian skull at the apex. [...]

My argument rests entirely upon Blumenbach’s text. I never mention or cite his figure at all (except in a parenthetical remark, inserted by the editors to reference the added illustration). I don’t think that I even knew about the figure when I wrote the article, for I worked from a photocopy of Blumenbach’s text alone. The version that accompanies my essay, drawn and inserted by the editors, does epitomize my argument in a useful way (especially for the non-professional readers targeted by Discover and, later, by my book), but it remains superfluous and additional to my intent and analysis." [...]


Thomas Junker.
„Factors Shaping Ernst Mayr’s Concepts in the History of Biology,“
Journal of the History of Biology 29 (1996): 29-77.

No organic being can be fully understood except by considering its history. Ernst Mayr

"Ernst Mayr's central role in the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis is well-known and has been widely discussed in the historical literature. Mayr's rather extensive work in the history of biology, on the other hand, has received comparatively little systematic attention. His major writings, especially The Growth of Biological Thought (1982), are frequently cited and were controversially discussed in numerous more or less extensive reviews. However, so far there has been no attempt to analyze Mayr's historical writings in a more systematic way and to relate them to the biographical, professional and scientific context, in which they were developed. […] In the subsequent analysis, I will try to approach these questions from a historical point of view and look for the origins of Mayr's concepts by studying his personal and professional development. Consequently, it will only be mentioned in passing to what extent the historical facts can be considered as a cause for his concepts in the history of biology."

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Thomas Junker & Marsha Richmond.
In Charles Darwins Briefwechsel mit deutschen Naturforschern. Ein Kalendarium mit Inhaltsangaben, biographischem Register und Bibliographie. Acta Biohistorica, I. Marburg: Basilisken-Presse, 1996, S. IX-XXXV.

From the Introduction:

If one analyses Charles Darwin's correspondence quantitively, the following picture emerges: by far the largest proportion of the letters are exchanged between British correspondents (including those living in the various British colonies). Taking as a basis the total number of 14,400 letters to and from 2,000 correspondents, 2720 of these (19%) are exchanged between 500 non-British correspondents (or 25%). Among this latter group, German-speaking correspondents predominate. 

[The corresponcents are] significantly younger than Darwin. The average year of birth of those individuals who entered into the most extensive correspondence with Darwin (five or more letters) is 1830. Most correspondents are therefore almost a generation (20 years) younger than Darwin, who was born in 1809 [...].

A glance at the careers of the correspondents indicates that professional naturalists either at universities or other natural history institutions are clearly in the majority. However, a significant number of other academics, such as physicians, pharmacists, and teachers are also represented. Finally, a proportionately large number of journalists, scientific popularisers, and interested laymen are included among Darwin's correspondents. [...]
It is striking that among the six correspondents who exchanged the greatest number of letters with Darwin only Ernst Haeckel held a full professorship.

The scientific specialisations within biology were relatively equally divided on the question of Darwinism. One finds zoologists, botanists, and anthropologists from many different areas of specialisation, including systematics, morphology, palaeontology, embryology, geographical distribution, and floral morphology. It is clear, however, that naturalists who worked in the comparative tradition far outnumber those concerned with experimental biology.

If one examines the geographical origins of the correspondents, the following breakdown becomes apparent: the greatest number (twelve) of correspondents come from one of the Prussian provinces; of the others, seven come from Hesse, four from Saxony, three from Switzerland, two from Baden, and one each from Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Saxon Weimar, and Bavaria. By a large margin, then, the largest proportion of correspondents stem from one of the Prussian-dominated states north of the Main. Exceptions to this rule are only Baden and Switzerland. By contrast, the south German states - Württemberg, Bavaria, and the German-speaking part of Austria -represent but mere specks on the map of German Darwinism. Compared with Prussia and calculated on the basis of the proportion of the entire population, we find only nine correspondents in these states.

A possible explanation for this geographical division of Darwinians may be the corresponding confessional partition of Germany. Table 2 seems to confirm this hypothesis. Correspondents who come from a Protestant background are clearly in the majority. (The ascription of confession is not meant to indicate the actual religiosity of the individual but rather solely their familial background.) From the fact that correspondents who had a Protestant upbringing were more favourably disposed to Darwin's theories than those with a Catholic background it does not follow that there was a simple causal relationship.
For one thing, it should be noted that Württemberg was predominantly Protestant and that a third of Bavarians were Protestants. Also, some of the north German Protestant states (Braunschweig, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg/Schwerin, and Hannover) showed no affinity to Darwinian thought.

Another possible explanation may be the different sociopolitical traditions of the various states. The German states, especially before the founding of the Reich, pursued different sociopolitical and economic goals. While in the first half of the nineteenth century the south German states and Switzerland followed a programme of stable, secure, and "organic" development rather than laissez-faire politics, Prussia, like Darwin's England, pursued a policy of economic liberalism and capitalistic competition. These differences perhaps carried over into the context of evolution theory. While south German biologists tended to support orthogenetic models, most of the selectionists came from Prussia or from the annexed states of middle Germany [...].

Further factors that may play a part are institutional influences and the formation of scientific schools. Berlin predominates as the primary place of study; younger correspondents studied at Jena.