Driesch, Hans

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Driesch, Hans


Born Oct. 28, 1867, in Bad Kreuznach; died Apr. 16, 1941, in Leipzig. German biologist and idealist philosopher.

Driesch studied at the universities of Hamburg, Freiburg, Munich, and Jena. In 1909 he became privatdocent at Heidelburg and in 1911, professor of philosophy there. In 1920 he was appointed professor of philosophy at Cologne and in 1921, at Leipzig.

Having demonstrated the possibility that an isolated blastomere from a sea urchin egg can develop into a complete larva, Driesch concluded that the possibilities for development in the parts of an embryo (their “prospective potency”) are greater than what is actually formed from these parts (their “prospective significance”). Later, having lost faith in the cognitive value of the experimental-analytical approach, he formulated a vitalist conception according to which the life processes are governed by an unknowable factor—the entelechy.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.