This second evening Peeters will deal with Darwin’s last botanical work: The Power of Movement in Plants (1880). This book not only concentrates on the different forms of movement in the plant kingdom, both above- and belowground. It also shows that, although plants seem to lack sensory organs, they are capable of sensory perception.
Plants have the ability to detect light and numerous other environmental cues. By studying the ways in which roots navigate through the soil, Darwin even draws an analogy between the sensitive root-tip and the brain of ‘lower’ animals such as earthworms. With this analogy Darwin seems to speculate that plants are capable of intelligent behavior. During this lecture we will further discuss the possibility or impossibility of plant intelligence, based on recent findings.
Norbert Peeters studied archaeology and philosophy at Leiden University. Together with former professor Th.C.W. Oudemans he wrote Plantaardig – Vegetatieve filosofie (2014). In 2016 he published his own debut book: Botanische revolutie: de plantenleer van Charles Darwin. His research focuses on a number of topics at the interface between philosophy, history of botany and plant sciences. Currently he is editing an volume on Victorian female naturalists that corresponded with Darwin.