Beyond Mechanism: Putting Life Back Into Biology

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Lexington Books, Feb 1, 2013 - Philosophy - 484 pages
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It has been said that new discoveries and developments in the human, social, and natural sciences hang “in the air” (Bowler, 1983; 2008) prior to their consummation. While neo-Darwinist biology has been powerfully served by its mechanistic metaphysic and a reductionist methodology in which living organisms are considered machines, many of the chapters in this volume place this paradigm into question. Pairing scientists and philosophers together, this volume explores what might be termed “the New Frontiers” of biology, namely contemporary areas of research that appear to call an updating, a supplementation, or a relaxation of some of the main tenets of the Modern Synthesis. Such areas of investigation include: Emergence Theory, Systems Biology, Biosemiotics, Homeostasis, Symbiogenesis, Niche Construction, the Theory of Organic Selection (also known as “the Baldwin Effect”), Self-Organization and Teleodynamics, as well as Epigenetics. Most of the chapters in this book offer critical reflections on the neo-Darwinist outlook and work to promote a novel synthesis that is open to a greater degree of inclusivity as well as to a more holistic orientation in the biological sciences.
 

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Contents

Foreword Evolution beyond Newton Darwin and Entailing Law
1
Introduction On a LifeBlind Spot in NeoDarwinisms Mechanistic Metaphysical Lens
25
Section 1 Complexity Systems Theory and Emergence
65
Section 2 Biosemiotics
146
Section 3 Homeostasis Thermodynamics and Symbiogenesis
183
Section 4 The Baldwin Effect Behavior and Evolution
252
Section 5 Autogenesis Teleology and Teleodynamics
288
Section 6 Epigenetics
346
Section 7 Organism and Mechanism
410
Index
448
About the Contributors
472
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About the author (2013)

Brian G. Henning is an associate professor of philosophy at Gonzaga University. A Summa cum laude graduate in philosophy from Seattle University, Dr. Henning holds a M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in philosophy from Fordham University. His research includes domestic and international invited lectures, book reviews, nearly twenty articles or anthology chapters, two books, and three co-edited volumes, including Beyond Metaphysics? Explorations in Alfred North Whitehead’s Late Thought, co-edited with Roland Faber and Clinton Combs (Rodopi 2010) and Being in America: Sixty Years of the Metaphysical Society, co-edited with David Kovacs (forthcoming, Rodopi). His 2005 book, The Ethics of Creativity (University of Pittsburgh), won the Findlay Book Prize from the Metaphysical Society of America. He is co-editor of the Contemporary Whitehead Studies book series through Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield.

Adam C. Scarfe is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Winnipeg. His areas of research are applied ethics, philosophy of education, continental philosophy, and philosophy of biology. Scarfe is the executive director of the International Process Network, an organization dedicated to advancing process philosophy globally. He has published well over twenty-five articles and book chapters, and is the editor and a co-author of The Adventure of Education: Process Philosophers on Learning, Teaching, and Research (Rodopi Press, 2009).

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