Driesch, Hans Adolf Eduard (häns äˈdôlf āˈdōärt drēsh) [key], 1867–1941, German philosopher, b. Bad Kreuznach, grad. (zoology) Univ. of Jena, 1889. His early interest in biology was gradually overshadowed by involvement in philosophy. As an embryologist he had experimented with the eggs of sea urchins and had established that a portion of an early embryo could develop into a complete, though smaller than normal, organism. This contradicted then-current mechanistic theories and led Driesch to develop a theory of vitalism, explaining organic systems in terms of a mysterious self-determining principle rather than in physical or chemical terms. His main work on the subject of vitalism is The History and Theory of Vitalism (1905). Driesch joined the Univ. of Heidelberg's philosophy faculty in 1912 and while there wrote Theory of Order (1912), Logic as a Task (1913), and Theory of Reality (1917). He later taught at Cologne and Leipzig but in 1933 was retired by the Nazis.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.