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Form and Transformation: Generative and Relational Principles in Biology

By: G Webster and B Goodwin

287 pages, 3 col plates, 10 b/w photos, 41 line illus

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Apr 2011 | #189476 | ISBN-13: 9780521207430
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £36.99 $48/€42 approx
Hardback | Mar 1997 | #51664 | ISBN: 052135451X
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £92.99 $122/€106 approx

About this book

Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection fails to explain the forms of organisms because it focuses on inheritance and survival, not on how organisms are generated. The first part of this book looks critically of the conceptual structure of Darwinism and describes the limitation of the theory of evolution as a comprehensive biological theory, arguing that a theory of biological form is needed to understand the structure of organisms and their transformations as revealed in taxonomy. The second part of the book (by Brian Goodwin) explores such a theory in terms of organisms as developing and transforming dynamic systems, within which gene action is to be understood. A number of specific examples, including tetrapod limb formation and Drosophila development, are used to illustrate how these hierarchically-organized dynamic fields undergo robust symmetry-breaking cascades to produce generic forms.

Reissue of a book first published in 1996.

Anyone who has been puzzled by the sorts of views championed by the structuralists, ideal morphologists and rational empiricists should read Webster and Goodwin's Form and Transformation. You may not agree, but at least you will understand--and this is no small accomplishment. David L. Hull, Northwestern University "This book makes an important contribution to the paradigm shift." Molecular Reproduction and Development


Preface; Acknowledgements; Part I. The Problem of Form: 1. Introduction: forms and kinds; 2. The old dialectic: empirical classification and Darwinian theory; 3. The ontological status of Taxa: material practice; 4. The ontological status of Taxa: theoretical practice; 5. Rational systematics and morphogenetic theory: a new dialectic?; 6. Putting the organism together again; Part II. Fields and Forms: 7. Segments, symmetries, and epigenetic maps; 8. The unitary morphogenetic field; 9. A generative biology; References; Index.

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