Lewontin the scientist and Lewontin the critic come together to provide a concise, accessible account of what his work has taught him about biology and its relevance to human affairs. In the process, he exposes some of the common and troubling misconceptions that misdirect and stall our understanding of biology and evolution. Here Lewontin shows that an organism is a unique consequence of both genes and environment, of both internal and external features. Rejecting the notion that genes determine the organism, which then adapts to the environment, he explains that organisms, influenced in their development by their circumstances, in turn create, modify, and choose the environment in which they live.
I. Gene and Organism II. Organism and Environment III. Parts and Wholes, Causes and Effects IV. Directions in the Study of Biology Notes Index
This is a tough, challenging and rewarding book aimed at persuading professional biologists to take account of what, Lewontin says, they all know already at some level of their consciousness. The general reader will find here a constructive critique of the limitations of science by a very successful and accomplished scientist. - New York Times Book Review; "In four brief essays, this respected evolutionary biologist critiques several key components of contemporary biology... In his opinion, evolution can't be reduced to a sequence of events whose unfolding is predetermined by a genetic program... While considering these ideas, Lewontin explores some of the biggest debates in the field of biology." - Science News
Richard Lewontin is Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. His many books include Biology and Ideology, Not in Our Genes, and Human Diversity.