Genesis: The Evolution of Biology

Genesis: The Evolution of Biology

Genesis: The Evolution of Biology

Genesis: The Evolution of Biology

Synopsis

This book presents a history of the past two centuries of biology, suitable for use in courses, but of interest more broadly to evolutionary biologists, geneticists, and biomedical scientists, and general readers interested in the history of science. The book covers the early evolutionary biologists-Lamarck, Cuvier, Darwin, Wallace, etc., through Mayr and the neodarwinian synthesis, in much the same way as other histories of evolution have done, bringing in also the social implications, the struggles with our religious understanding, and the interweaving of genetics into evolutionary theory. What is novel about Sapp's account is a real integration of the cytological tradition, from Schwann, Boveri, and the other early cell biologists and embryologists, and the coverage of symbiosis, microbial evolutionary phylogenies, and the new understanding of complete microbial genomes. The book as a whole will serve as a good introduction to the rise of modern biology over the past two centuries.

Excerpt

What is evolution? What is an organism? What is a gene? This book explores these concepts and the controversies that have surrounded them. It aims to provide a short history of biology, one that can be read by nonspecialists and one that incorporates new evolutionary research programs, contemporary Darwinian and nonDarwinian theory, changing concepts of the organism, and shifting concepts of the gene, all of which advance research today. a central question motivating the book is: Why did the history of biology and evolutionary thought unfold the way it did? in the book, I search for answers in the use of specific techniques, models, and analogies; financial support; institutional conditions; and sometimes larger social and intellectual movements.

Though a book such as this cannot contain all of the outstanding scholarship pertaining to the history of biology, I have selected the major historic transitions and key figures representative of them. Part I describes the emergence of evolutionary theory in France led by Lamarck and analyzes the subsequent genesis of Darwin's theory of natural selection, its philosophical and social significance, and objections to it in the nineteenth century. Part ii describes parallel research on the cell in development and heredity and highlights nineteenth-century attempts to discern the processes by which animals develop from eggs. Part iii follows episodes in genetics and evolutionary theory, from the rediscovery of Mendel's laws to the neo-Darwinian synthesis and the development of microbial genetics. Part iv examines the rise of molecular biology, the genetic code, its central doctrines, and their critics. It also explores research on hereditary mechanisms in addition to chromosomal genes, whose investigations were developed in the latter decades of the twentieth century.

When sketching historical changes, I have tried to underscore important themes in the history, philosophy, and social studies of biology while avoiding arcane language. I have drawn from various studies to illustrate the two-way traffic between social theory and evolutionary explanation. I explore the development of evolutionary thought from Lamarck to Darwin in the context of social change in . . .

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