On Natural History, Aesthetics, and Conservation [Video]

How can an 18th-century philosopher’s distinction between “beauty” and “the sublime” be applied to Darwin’s notion of “descent with modification”? That’s the topic of a recent Monday Night Seminar by Harry Greene, a Cornell University professor and faculty curator of herpetology. In his one-hour presentation, Greene described how natural history helps us appreciate organisms and environments, thereby influencing value judgments that ultimately underlie conservation. Greene illustrated his argument with examples from frogs, rattlesnakes, African megafauna, longhorn cattle, and California Condors. You can read more of Greene’s ideas in his new book, Tracks and Shadows.

Greene’s talk on November 4, 2013, was part of the Cornell Lab’s long-running Monday Night Seminar series, a long-standing tradition established decades ago by Lab founder Dr. Arthur Allen. In 2013, to enable more people to enjoy these thought-provoking talks by international experts, we began livestreaming some of the seminars. If you enjoyed this seminar, check this list for our list of future speakers—we’ll note which upcoming talks will be livestreamed—or come visit us in person! If you missed any talks, please see our index of archived livestreamed seminars.

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