Aristide Caradja, Entomologist And Philosopher

Member of the Romanian Academy

A Written Report at the Public Meeting on the 20th of April 1945 In every social group, may that be family, social class, nation, village, city, region, country, in every institution or social organization, an elite is automatically and spontaneously formed. This group defines the goals, sets up the trends and leads the movements. One is not to understand that the elite represents those people who live surrounded by wealth or in possession of greatest powers. The elite is represented by all people who are able to create and develop valuable judgments, either belonging to the inner life or to the social collective existence and who can actually plant those ideas into the emotional side of society. The elite sets social life in motion, motivates it and provides social balance. The individuals belonging to the elite, although different in their exterior manifestations, frame of mind and domain of activity are very similar in their structure, like a gender, we could say. The are all the more valuable for society as they release several and more beautiful emotions, as they are eager to take action and show less interest in themselves, willing to sacrifice easily for the others' sake and finally have a pleasant artistic personality, harmoniously developed. The elite is present on all social layers, but there are some professions that could rank first: the artist, the scientist, the philosopher. The sky is the limit for them. The Universe is their homeland. They believe in the values of Truth, Beauty and Good.Aristide Caradja is undoubtedly the philosopher entomologist and the entomologist philosopher, a Romanian scientist with a wide and profound thinking horizon, endowed with an uncommon eagerness for his work, with an extremely refined and diversified sensitivity. To him, Romanian science can proudly offer the title of Princeps Biologorum Romaniae without the fear of being denied by any social group. Whoever sees this fine specimen of Romanian scientific elite for the first time is surely impressed by his commanding presence: tall, thin, pliant even now when he stands for the 84th time in front of the beloved nature that he knows so deeply in its mysterious profoundness. Who has the chance to get to know A. Caradja better, feels attracted, charmed by the expression on his face, contoured by fine lines, just as in an El Greco painting; penetrating eyes, wide open under a broad, round and serene forehead, which does not bear the wrinkles of sorrow. The humbleness of his hands with long, delicate fingers meant to handle the brush on the canvas or to gently glide on the gray ivory of the clavier.Who has the privilege to be around A. Caradja for a longer period time will end up by being subdued by his friendly speech, gentle as an adagio with mysterious meanings from a Beethoven symphony, by his natural curtsies and modesty in its unforced nature, as only a true scientist, artist or philosopher possesses.A. Caradja was born on September 28th 1861 in Dresden, because his parents took great interest in their children's education and, therefore, they bought a house in town. He was the seventh son of that marriage with royal relatives both by his mother and his father. After having graduated high school in Dresden, A. Caradja attended LawUniversity in Toulouse, continuing, thus, his family tradition and fulfilling his father's wish. Although he graduated with brilliant exams, A. Caradja followed his natural call, by also attending courses in Zoology, Botanic, Paleontology, and Geology that served him years later to elaborate his outstanding theories. Inheriting the harmony of a pleasant personality, A. Caradja was formed under the benefic influence of three social coordinates: the old cultural tradition of royal Moldavian families, the systemic and sharp thinking of the Germans, and the synthetic thinking, prone to generalization of the French. Let us not overlook at least two other directions that had also completed A. Caradja's personality: his passion for classic works, reflected by his library – a sacrifice to Mars's moods – with many rare books and precious editions, as well as his exceptional musical talent so often present with those who love nature and try to discover its mystery. As a student of Hans v. Bűlow, or making friends with Wagner, Caradja spent his time in the company of both music and science, playing the works of the titan on the piano, filled with the passion of a true artist and the skill of an accomplished professional.After his father's death in 1887, A. Caradja returns to the country and settles down forever at his ancestors' mansion, in Grumazesti, Neamt, at the border of Creanga's Humulesti. That impressive, majestic mansion, with thick walls and tall windows was lying right in the middle of an oldish park, very well taken care of. Away from the daily rush and devastating torment of big cities, surrounded by charming settings, close to perfection, A. Caradja lived his aristocratic life, as an artist and a man of science who does not indulge himself in trivialities, undisturbed by the changes going on around him, in perfect balance with himself, despite the hardships and sorrows that did not spare him. His work bears the mark of the tender landscapes around Grumazesti. The meadows and hay fields mottled by the colourful flowers, crops spread in the sun like laundry, the dark green woods where oaks, beech tress, fir trees and spruce fir make the forests vigurous, fresh and health, just as Andreescu used to paint them.Out of the many species of the world, 5000 are large Lepidopteran, while the rest belong to small Lepidopteran, such as Pyralides and Microeterocres. A. Caradja is undoubtedly our unique specialist in this field of study. The scientific value of this collection relies on the 3000 types – species, varieties, forms and abnormalities – discovered and described by Caradja. How many systematic specialists from all over the world since Linné's contribution can actually be compared to A. Caradja as far as their amount of studies and new discoveries made for science are concerned? No other butterfly collection measures up to Caradja's, in richness of species as it is considered by the specialists as the most important one for Microlepidopteres living in Central Asia, China, Tibet, Pamir, Siberia, etc. In order to complete his diverse collection which he needed for his biogeography studies, A. Caradja bought many private valuable collections from Hedemann, Zimmermann, Woche, J. Mann, etc. He kept a vivid connection with worldwide collectors, especially with the Asians, paying high amounts of money for any rare or unknown species. Before World War I he supported several scientific expeditions to Asia, Spitzbergen, North Africa, Spain, South America, accepting as a reward only individuals of the Microlepidopteres class. Caradja himself gathered an affluent insect array, from all over the country, but especially from Grumazesti and Tekir-Ghiol.Beside his large number of butterflies that he put together for study and index, millions of other butterflies that required special skills, patience and minute observation crossed Caradja's specialized analysis. Such as the insects collected along scientific trips to Asia and on other continents. Caradja also studied samples belonging to the following collections: Sven Hedin, Max Korb, Bartels, Paul Chrétien, Carl Ribbe, etc. Caradja identified and classified 400,000 butterflies from China, all belonging to HÅ‘hne's collection. For his minute scientific effort, Caradja did not claim any material compensation, but he preferred instead to keep one or two individuals from the species he discovered and described. All these species, plus A. Caradja's collections can be found today at the Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History in Bucharest, well preserved and untouched by the horror of bombing when this precious institution came intentionally under attack. The National Museum of Natural History became one of the most important in the whole world owing to its butterfly section when the management bought A. Caradja's collection. This wonderful collection stands for a dedicated lifetime work and serious investments for the sake of promoting science, without any contribution from public funds. He was an analytic man, diligent and industrious, and, for this reason, he did not settle for the shallow study of incomplete materials, as it unfortunately happens in these cases. First, he enlarged his knowledge in the field, sharpened his senses, strengthened his intuition by studying the fauna. These preoccupations may seem only whims, vices or amateur's work, unless there are serious recognized principles on the genesis of forms, on how they developed and expanded in space and time. Working hard and alone to set up the basis of this scientific domain that he was later to bring to its utmost value, he must have hummed Kundrya's song from Parsifal: "Dienen…dienen," a song that he quotes as a motto for one of his papers.Caradja's first entomological publication was issued in 1891 and discusses the lepidopterologic fauna in Haute-Garonne area. The study comprises 848 species and 149 varieties and abnormalities. Caradja himself, in the company of his friend, the French entomologist, Auguste d'Aubuisson gathered the actual material presented in this paper, while he was studying law in Toulouse. Caradja was overwhelmed by his responsibility and soon realized that he could not reach final general conclusions on the origin and evolution of species.In the future, Cardja plans to organize two new centers for breading species that have already begun to evolve in the heart of nature. One of these centers is located in Sechuan Yunnan and the other in Armenia. In these locations, species of Lepidopteran, Coleopteran, Orthopter face a crisis in their rapid evolution, that is a high variability of forms and mutations. A. Caradja intends to study the development of these two centers where new forms of fauna develop every day. Counting on his effectual logic and on his compelling perseverance, A. Caradja followed the stream of his thinking along the origin and evolution of butterfly population and once he deepened his studies, he made pertinent observations regarding the evolution of life since Tertiary up to present days. He did not fell pray to critics, nor did he grow furious when he was misunderstood. He remained true to his judgment, convinced of the ultimate triumph of his ideas that became public property for science. However, he was not blinded by trusting the dogmatism of his theories, realizing that although scientific truth is strong, it still remains a small island in the vast ocean of the unknown. When the Beckmessers reproached him the atypical thinking, he did not stop to ponder. He was the Walter v. Stolzing of Entomology and Biogeography. What kept A. Caradja going on with his studies for nearly half of century was not the vanity of having discovered and settled absolute unchangeable truths, but the very joyful hope of discovering them. This is what preserved his energy, his dynamic thinking and youth of his spirit until he turned 84. Being always in contact with nature and methodically studying it, offered A. Caradja, just as it offered Goethe, a lofty view of the world. The core of his thinking, present at every stage of his entire work, is reflected in the ideas of whole, unity and totality closely bound together in completeness. 1945 

by Prof. Traian Săvulescu