Beyond Mechanism

Beyond Mechanism. Putting life Back into biology

Brian Henning and Adam Scarfe (editors),  

Lexington Books 2013

Book Description:

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.

List of Contributors

Lawrence Cahoone, Tyrone Cashman, Philip Clayton, Terrence Deacon, Gernot Falkner, Renate Falkner, Brian K. Hall, Brian G. Henning, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Stuart A. Kauffman, Spyridon Koutroufinis, Lynn Margulis, Michael Ruse, Dorion Sagan, Adam C. Scarfe, J. Scott Turner, Robert E. Ulanowicz, Bruce H. Weber

From the Back Cover

“Suspicion about the adequacy of mechanistic views of nature has lately become increasingly audible. Contributors to this uniformly excellent body of essays not only amplify this suspicion but also offer scientifically and intellectually sophisticated alternatives. I consider this book essential reading for anyone seriously interested in understanding biology in its relationship to other fields of scientific and philosophical inquiry.” —John F. Haught, Georgetown University

“This collection of papers explores some ways forward for biological science, out of its neo-Darwinian stasis and its mechanistic bonds. I recommend this volume to those willing to consider some of the possibilities emerging now within biological science.” —Stanley N. Salthe, Binghamton University 


Revised March 18, 2013

19© Jesper Hoffmeyer 2013