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» » The Mendelian Revolution: The Emergence of Hereditarian Concepts in Modern Science and Society (History: Bloomsbury Academic Collections)
The Mendelian Revolution: The Emergence of Hereditarian Concepts in Modern Science and Society (History: Bloomsbury Academic Collections)

Author:

Peter J. Bowler

Title:

The Mendelian Revolution: The Emergence of Hereditarian Concepts in Modern Science and Society (History: Bloomsbury Academic Collections)

Category:

Other

PDF ebook size:

1974 kb

ePub ebook size:

1912 kb

Fb2 ebook size:

1600 kb

Other book formats:

lit txt rtf azw

Rating:

4.9

ISBN10:

0485113759

ISBN13:

978-0485113754

Publisher:

The Athlone Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2001)

Language:

English

Subcategory:

Medicine and Health Sciences

Pages:

216

Buy Hardcover:

Amazon

The Mendelian Revolution: The Emergence of Hereditarian Concepts in Modern Science and Society (History: Bloomsbury Academic Collections) by Peter J. Bowler

An introduction to the history of genetics and the rethinking of evolutionism.
Oparae
A typically thoughtful analysis from this consistently interesting and articulate historian. While this is a short book, Bowler covers a lot of a ground and contributes to both history of science and general intellectual history. Bowler describes the emergence of hereditarianism-classical genetics, which he argues was as much a major change in biology as Darwin's articulation of the basic principles of evolutionary theory. Bowler discusses the extent to which biology was embedded in a developmental paradigm focusing on organismic growth and not separating somatic growth from germline changes. Over the course of the late 19th century, and spurred in large part by the development of cytology and increasing understanding of embryology, the germline-soma distinction emerged. Other currents, such as the biometry of Galton and Pearson occurred somewhat in parallel, and interacted in complex ways with studies of inheritence. Bowler nicely shows the way in which a series of complex events led eventually to the emergence of classical genetics. Along the way, he attacks some popular conceptions. He is critical, for example, of the notion that Jenkin's criticism of Darwin had as much impact as thought generally. He suggests that Mendel was an inadvertant precursor of classical genetics as Mendel was primarily interested in speciation, not heredity per se.

While not the primary focus, Bowler points out some interesting connections with broader social currents. In a theme covered in some of his other work, Bowler emphasizes that Social Darwinism should be more aptly termed Social Lamarckism and explores the connection with the developmental orientation of much 19th century biology. Similarly, he points to the eugenic orientation of many important biometricians, such as Galton, Pearson, and Fisher.

In the opening of the book, Bowler emphasizes science as a process of construction rather than a process of discovery. He returns to this theme repeatedly. The basic point is well taken but I suspect that Bowler has overdrawn overdrawn the construction aspect of scientific progress. His own account seems to show a more incremental process than some of his discussion implies. Perhaps more important, his account indicates the importance of technical-methodological improvements, particularly in microscopy, as prompting reassessments of received views. This suggests that "discovery" was important than his discussion suggests.
Reggy
Mendel was a reductionist in the Galilean tradition of physics who got genetics right and thereby started the only mathematical science (falsifiable models) within biology. Darwin, in contrast, followed the Aristotelian tradition of observing qualitatively and trying to explain phenomena in the absence of experiments or systematic mathematical observations. Darwin imagined an 'integrated' picture of heredity that was completely wrong.
In reality 'holism' is impossible as science: every model that can be constructed is an example of reductionism. If it is good reductionism, like cell biology, then the model can be falsified. Creationism, of course, is not science because it does not present us with falsifiable propositions. Darwinism can't be tested at the macro-level because macroscopic laws of time evolution in biology do not exist., so far as we understand the matter. However, evolution at the cellular level is observable and is well-documented, saving the day for Darwin's basic idea.


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