Robert J. Richards, Sarton Medalist

November 9, 2011
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Kudos to Robert J. Richards, the Morris Fishbein Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Chicago, for a recent accolade: the Sarton Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the History of Science Society (HSS).
Named after George Sarton, a founder of the HSS, the Sarton Medal is “the highest honor conferred by the History of Science Society, in recognition of a lifetime of exceptional scholarly achievement by a distinguished scholar, selected from the international community.”
Richards’s credentials? Besides authoring Laing Prize-winners The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought (2008) and The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe (2002), Richards has also penned The Meaning of Evolution (1992) and Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior (1987, and winner of the Pfizer Prize from the HSS for the best book in the history of science). In addition, he’s coedited two collections: Darwinian Heretics (with Abigail Lustig and Michael Ruse) and the Cambridge Companion to Darwin’s Origin of Species (also with Michael Ruse).
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From the Sarton Medal release:

Professor Richards holds an MA in biological psychology (University of Nebraska), a PhD in philosophy (St. Louis University) and a PhD in the history of science (University of Chicago). He has served as the director of the Fishbein Center for the History of Science at the University of Chicago since 1992 and was appointed the Morris Fishbein Professor of the History of Science in 2004. He holds appointments in the Department of History, in the Department of Philosophy, in the Department of Psychology, and in Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science. Professor Richards received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004 and was made a corresponding member of the Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen in 2010. The University of Chicago has bestowed on Professor Richards numerous awards for teaching at the graduate and undergraduate level. The University appointed him Distinguished Service Professor in 2011, and Ryerson Memorial Lecturer in 2005.

From Goethe and Humboldt to Haeckel and Herbert Spencer —Richards reminds us of the importance of the history of ideas as they relate to mind and behavior. And for that, it seems that this hearty congrats might be long overdue.

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