Konrad Lawrence

Konrad Lawrence

Famous biologist and ethologist, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1973famous biologist and ethologist, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1973
Date of Birth: 07.11.1903
Country: Austria

Biography of Konrad Lorenz

Konrad Lorenz was a renowned biologist and ethologist, best known for being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973. He was born on November 7, 1903, in Altenberg, near Vienna, into a family of doctors. He received his primary education at a private school and then attended the prestigious Schottengymnasium.

Lorenz went on to become a student at the medical faculty of the University of Vienna after graduating from high school. Instead of practicing medicine after obtaining his medical degree, he devoted himself to ethology, the study of animal behavior and human beings as biological entities. He became a pioneer in this field and is considered its founder. During his dissertation, Lorenz systematized the characteristics of instinctive animal behavior.

In the early 20th century, there were two viewpoints on instinct in biology: vitalism and behaviorism. Vitalists attributed the purposeful behavior of animals to the wisdom of nature and believed that animal instincts were based on the same factors as human behavior. Behaviorists attempted to explain everything in terms of reflexes, both conditioned and unconditioned. Their conclusions often contradicted the concept of instinct as a complex set of innate, non-acquired reactions. In the 1920s, Lorenz interned in England under the guidance of the renowned biologist Julian Huxley.

After returning to Austria, Lorenz collaborated with the famous ornithologist Oscar Heinroth. In his youth, Lorenz discovered that animals are capable of transmitting knowledge acquired through learning to one another. He named this phenomenon "imprinting."

In the 1930s, Lorenz emerged as a leading figure in the study of instincts. Initially leaning towards behaviorism, he attempted to explain instincts as a chain of reflexes. However, after gathering evidence, Lorenz concluded that instincts have internal motivation. He particularly showed that territorial animals have a social instinct that counteracts their instinct of intra-species aggression. The behavior of animals occupying a specific hunting territory is determined by a dynamic equilibrium between the instinct of intra-species aggression and either the sexual or social instincts. Lorenz demonstrated that the combination and interaction of these instincts give rise to higher emotions in animals and humans, such as recognition, aggression inhibition, friendship, and love.

After the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, Lorenz found himself unemployed. However, he later received an invitation to the psychology department of the University of Königsberg.

Two years later, Lorenz was mobilized into the army as a military doctor, where he even performed surgical operations despite lacking medical practice. He conducted surgeries both under field conditions and in a military hospital in Belarus.

In 1944, during the retreat of the German army, Konrad Lorenz was taken prisoner and ended up in a prisoner-of-war camp in Armenia. Due to a lack of protein-rich food, Lorenz supplemented his diet by eating scorpions, whose venom is only present in their tails, making their abdomens safe for consumption even without special treatment.

While observing semi-wild goats in the Armenian highlands, Lorenz noticed how they would seek suitable caves in the rocks at the first distant rumblings of thunder, preparing for possible rain. They would also do the same when near explosions occurred. Lorenz concluded that "under natural conditions, the formation of conditional reflexes only contributes to the preservation of a species when the conditional stimulus is causally related to the unconditional stimulus."

In 1948, Konrad Lorenz was freed from captivity among austrians forcibly mobilized into the Nazi army. In the camp, he began writing his book "On the Revolutions of the Mirror: An Experiment in Natural History of Human Knowledge." The final version of this book was published in 1973.

In 1950, Konrad Lorenz, together with Erich von Holst, established the Institute of Physiology in Bavaria, where he continued his observations, focusing mainly on the study of waterfowl behavior.

In 1963, Lorenz's book "On Aggression" was published, which brought him worldwide recognition. In this book, he discussed intra-species aggression and its role in the formation of higher forms of behavior.

In the late 1960s, Lorenz returned to Austria at the invitation of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which organized the Institute for Comparative Behavior Studies for him.

A few years later, Lorenz published the book "The Eight Sins of Modern Civilization," in which he identified overpopulation, depletion of living space, competition with oneself, the death of feelings, genetic degeneration, the rupture with tradition, indoctrination, and nuclear weapons as the sins of modern humanity.

In his book "On the Revolutions of the Mirror," Lorenz presented evolution as the formation of new regulating circuits. Linear sequences of processes that act on each other in a specific order form a closed loop, and the last process begins to act on the first, creating a qualitatively new property of the living system. Lorenz named this leap "fulguration" (from the Latin term meaning lightning strike). The application of this approach led to the formation of a new science: theoretical biology.

In 1973, Konrad Lorenz, along with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for discoveries concerning organization and elicitation of individual and social behavior patterns in animals."