Form and Transformation: Generative and Relational Principles in Biology
Cambridge University Press, Nov 13, 1996 - Science - 287 pages
Organisms have disappeared as fundamental entities from modern biology, replaced by genes and their products as the primary determinants of selected characters. This is a consequence of Darwin's theory of descent with variation and survival of fitter variants. The first part of this book (by Gerry Webster) looks critically at the conceptual structure of Darwinism and describes the limitation of the theory of evolution as a comprehensive biological theory, arguing that a theory of biological form is needed to understand the structure of organisms and their transformations as revealed in taxonomy. The second part of the book (by Brian Goodwin) explores such a theory in terms of organisms as developing and transforming dynamic systems, within which gene action is to be understood. A number of specific examples, including tetrapod limb formation and Drosophila development, are used to illustrate how these hierarchically organized dynamic fields undergo robust symmetry-breaking cascades to produce generic forms. These are the basic morphological structures available for evolutionary transformations, whose classification into equivalence classes provides a basis for taxonomic relationships. Evolutionary and developmental biologists, geneticists and philosophers of science will all find this a thought-provoking book.
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Acetabularia Acetabularia acetabulum alleles argues argument basic Bateson Bhaskar biological form biologists calcium Cassirer causal cell changes Chapter characteristic claim classes conceived concept context cycle cytoplasm D'Arcy Thompson Darwin Darwinian Darwinist Dasycladales defined denticle denticle bands descent described determine developmental digits diversity domain Driesch Drosophila dynamic elements embryo empirical entities epigenetic evolution evolutionary example experimental explain explanatory theory formation gastrulation gene activity gene products genetic networks Goodwin Harre hence hierarchy holotype homology Hull Hull's identity individual organisms intrinsic involved logical material practice mirror symmetries mirror-symmetrical morphogen morphogenetic field morphology mutant names natural kinds normal observed organisation pair-rule parameter particular perspective phenotypes phyllotaxis position possible posterior principle problem produced properties rational system real essence regarded relation result robust segmentation genes sense sequence similar spatial patterns spatio-temporal species taxa structure symmetry taxon taxonomic tetrapod theoretical things transformations variation whorl Woodger zygote