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More than a history, From Cells to Organisms delves into the nature of scientific practice, showing that results are interpreted not only through the lens of a microscope, but also through the lens of particular ideas and prior philosophical convictions.
Before the twentieth century, heredity and development were considered complementary aspects of the fundamental problem of generation, but later they became distinct disciplines with the rise of genetics. Focusing on how cell theory shaped investigations of development, From Cells to Organisms explores evolution, vitalism, the role of the nucleus, and the concept of biological individuality. Building upon the work of Thomas Huxley, an important early critic of cell theory, and more recent research from biologists such as Daniel Mazia, From Cells to Organisms covers ongoing debates around cell theory and uses case studies to examine the nature of scientific practice, the role of prestige, and the dynamics of theory change.
1. Microscopes and the Discovery of the Cell
2. The Physical Basis of Life
3. The Cell as the Unit of Heredity and Development
4. The Cell Theory in Development
5. How One Cell Becomes Two
6. How Does an Egg Become a Chicken? The Cell Theory Revisited
Sherrie L. Lyons is Assistant Professor at the Center for Distance Learning at Empire State College.
"This important book examines how our past understanding and appreciation of cells reflected current but often outdated or incomplete ideas. It is timely, scholarly, and thorough; fills gaps in our past knowledge; and provides an integrated approach to analysis of cell theory."
– Brian K. Hall, Dalhousie University
"This is a book that takes cell theory seriously – not as finished doctrine, but as an ongoing and sometimes contentious research program. Creative thinkers such as Oscar Hertwig, Thomas Huxley, Robert Remak, and Daniel Mazia take center stage in this book, showing the reciprocity of cell theories with all areas of biology."
– Scott Gilbert, Swarthmore College
"Cell theory, as Sherrie L. Lyons points out, joins evolution as one of biology's two 'unifying theories,' and yet evolution has received the lion's share of historical attention. In From Cells to Organisms, Lyons fills this gap. Her fresh, insightful, succinct, and accessible reinterpretation of the history of cytology is essential reading for students and general readers who seek to understand the ideas underpinning not only cell biology but ultimately life itself."
– Marsha L. Richmond, Wayne State University