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Understanding Origins: An Introduction

  • Jean-Pierre Dupuy
  • Francisco J. Varela
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 130)

Abstract

We wish to start with the following observation: the humanities and the ‘hard’ sciences (here meaning especially biology and a good part of the cognitive sciences) differ considerably in their ambitions concerning the ‘big questions’ . The hard sciences are more daring than ever in proposing how the cosmos formed and life originated, how species evolved and the destiny of it all. In contrast, for the humanities it has been a time of dispersion, of fragmentation, of a dissemination which resists any attempt at integration on a grand scale. The time of the ‘big theories’ seems to have been left far behind.

Keywords

Grand Unify Theory Hard Science Paper Money Circular Causality Western Metaphysic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    H. Maturana and F. Varela, Autopoiesis and Cognition, (Boston Studies, vol. 42], D. Reidel, 1980;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 1a.
    L. Margulis, Symbiosis in Cell Evolution, Freeman, 1982.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    F. Varela, Principles of Biological Autonomy, North-Holland, New York, 1979.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    The ones we have in mind here are Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, The Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1965; Violence and the Sacred, ibid., 1977; Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde, Grasset, 1978; Le Bouc émissaire, Grasset, 1982.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    The term différance does not exist in French, and was introduced by Derrida to designate both a difference and deferral.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    See in particular: S. J. Gould, ‘Darwinism and the expansion of evolutionary theory’ , Science 216 (1982): 380–387;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 5a.
    S. J. Gould and R. Lewontin, ‘The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A critique of the adaptationist programme’ , Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 205 (1979): 581–598. For more general discussion, see Eliot Sober The Nature of Selection (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1984);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 5c.
    M. Ho and P. Saunders, Beyond Neo-Darwinism (New York: Academic Press, 1984);Google Scholar
  9. 5d.
    J. Endler, ‘The newer synthesis? Some conceptual problems in evolutionary biology,’ Oxford Surveys in Evolutionary Biology 3 (1986): 224–243. For a recent defense of Neo-Darwinism in the face of these various challenges see: M. Hecht and A. Hoffman, ‘Why not neo-Darwinism? A critique of paleobiological challenges?’ Oxford Surveys in Evolutionary Biology, 3 (1986): 1–47. Our discussion in this section also owes much to M. Piatelli-Palmarini, ‘Evolution, selection, and cognition,’ in E. Quagliariello, G. Bernardi, and A. Ullman (eds.), From Enzyme Adaptation to Natural Philosophy, (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1987), which explores similar themes, though in the context of a defense of cognitivism.Google Scholar
  10. 6.
    This term is from Eliot Sober, The Nature of Selection (op. cit.). Google Scholar
  11. 7.
    R. Lewontin, ‘A natural selection: Review of J. M. Smith’ s Evolutionary Genetics,’ Nature 339 (1989): 107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 8.
    An interesting example of this revisionist mood is the critical study of the classic example of industrial melanism in moths as a textbook case of natural selection. According to D. Lambert, C. Millar, and T. Hughes, ‘On the classic case of natural selection’ , Biology Forum 79 (1986): 11–49, this example can be transformed into a classic study against neo-Darwinism by considering a substantial amount of ignored extant literature.Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    H. Clemens, Alfred R. Wallace: Biologist and Social Reformer (London: Hutchinson, 1983).Google Scholar
  14. 10.
    Richard Lewontin, ‘The organism as the subject and object of evolution’ , Scientia 118 (1983): 63–82.Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    Richard Lewontin, ‘The organism as the subject and object of evolution’ , Scientia 118 (1983): 63–82.Google Scholar
  16. 12.
    This designation is justified by John Haugeland, ‘The nature and plausibility of cognitivism’ , reprinted in Mind Design: Philosophy, Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, John Haugeland (ed.) (Montgomery, Vt.: Bradford Books, 1981). Sometimes cognitivism is described as the ‘symbolic paradigm’ or the ‘computational approach’ . We take these designations as synonyms for our purposes here.Google Scholar
  17. 13.
    See Nelson Goodman, Ways of Worldmaking (Cambridge/Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1978).Google Scholar
  18. 14.
    See Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton University Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  19. 15.
    For the best thorough and technical discussion of this point see G. Oster and S. Rocklin, ‘Optimization models in evolutionary biology’ , Lectures in Mathematical Life Sciences, vol. 11 (Rhode Island: American Mathematical Society, 1979), pp. 21–88. For recent discussion see J. Dupré (ed.), The Latest on the Best (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  20. 16.
    This analogy was first proposed in G. Edelman and W. Gall, ‘The antibody problem’ , Annual Review of Biochemistry 38 (1979): 699–766. It is also used by M. Piatelli-Palmarini, ‘Evolution, selection, and cognition’ , in E. Quagliariello, G. Bernardi, and A. Ullman (eds.), From Enzyme Adaptation to Natural Philosophy. We use the analogy here with an extension which is not in line with the intention of either of these authors.Google Scholar
  21. 17.
    Cf. § 109 and 374 Gay Science, and II-§ 133 The Will to Power. Google Scholar
  22. 18.
    More on this logic in J.-P. Dupuy, ‘Tangled Hierarchies: self-reference in philosophy, anthropology, and critical theory’ , Comparative Criticism 12 (1990): 105–123.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Pierre Dupuy
    • 1
  • Francisco J. Varela
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecole PolytechniqueCREAParisFrance

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