Hans Adolf Eduard Driesch


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(1867–1941) German biologist

Born in Bad Kreuznach, in southwest Germany, Driesch held professorships at Heidelberg, Cologne, and Leipzig, and was visiting professor to China and America. A student of zoology at Freiburg, Jena, and Munich, he was for some years on the staff of the Naples Zoological Station.

Driesch carried out pioneering work in experimental embryology. He separated the two cells formed by the first division of a sea-urchin embryo and observed that each developed into a complete larva, thus demonstrating the capacity of the cell to form identical copies on division. He was also the first to demonstrate the phenomenon of embryonic induction, whereby the position of and interaction between cells within the embryo determine their subsequent differentiation.

Driesch is perhaps best known for his concept of entelechy – a vitalistic philosophy that postulates the origin of life to lie in some unknown vital force separate from biochemical and physiological influences. This also led him to investigate psychic research and parapsychology.

Subjects: Psychology.

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