Form and Transformation: Generative and Relational Principles in Biology

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 13, 1996 - Science - 287 pages
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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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Forms and Kinds
Empirical Classification
Material Practice
Theoretical Practice
Putting the Organism Together Again
Segments Symmetries and Epigenetic Maps
The Unitary Morphogenetic Field
A Generative Biology

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About the author (1996)

Frank Cottrell Boyce's books have won or been shortlisted for every major UK award. His first novel, Millions, was made into a feature film. His second, Framed, was adapted for BBC television. His third book, Cosmic, is currently being developed for cinema. Frank also helped to devise the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In 2011 Joe Berger was a winner of Booktrust's Best New Illustrators Award. He makes prize-winning animated short films and is co-creator of the food cartoon in the Guardian magazine each Saturday. Joe was the official illustrator for World Book Day 2010.

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