Models and Analogues in Biology

By Society for Experimental Biology | Go to book overview
All we can do, when teaching about teaching or research, is to start people's minds working in their own way, and this we can do only by example--the example of ourselves or of others. We cannot teach the working itself. It is by no means clear why this should be so. Perhaps my approach is naive; but I believe that the ability to do outstanding research or to be an outstanding teacher involves the ability to formulate propositions whose structure mirrors that of reality with a greater fidelity than most of us ever achieve; and to tell people how to do this involves examining the correspondence between the logical structure of the propositions and that of the reality which they represent--'representing in language that which mirrors itself in language'; and this is impossible. It may not always be so; perhaps our philosophers will provide us with a 'meta-language' that will transcend our present languages; perhaps, as in the case of the Straw Man in The Wizard of Oz and the Lieutenant in that logically puzzling film The Forbidden Planet, some scientist will find a means of rapidly transmitting to a receptive brain the ability to think; but I am not very sanguine.Yet our non-scientific colleagues frequently ask us to lecture on 'scientific method'; and I believe that in Departments of Education they lecture on teaching methods. No harm is done if it is clearly understood that such lectures must be essentially historical; they can tell students what other people have done in similar situations. They cannot make students into scientists, research workers or teachers, and I think that such lectures often do more harm than good, in that they may easily give the impression that they are intended to convey some special mystique. This is why I so deplore the increasing tendency to insist that teachers spend a period undergoing diploma courses in Education, and the occasional suggestions that lecturers should be taught how to lecture. To those who seek our advice, as biologists, on such matters I would suggest that the appropriate answer was given for all time by Wittgenstein in the celebrated Proposition 7 which ends the 'Tractatus':Whereof one cannot speak, thereof must one be silent.
ACKNOWLEDGE MENTS
I wish to acknowledge my deep indebtedness to Mr. A. R. Manser and Mr. A. M. Mclver, of the Philosophy Department of Southampton University, both of whom have criticized this draft in its early stages; though neither of these gentlemen can be held responsible for the opinions expressed in this its final form.
REFERENCES
BAKER. F. ( 1934). "Purpose and natural selection: a defence of teleology". Sci. J. Royal Coll. Sci 4,106.
DODGSON C. L. (Lewis Carroll) ( 1893). Sylvia and Bruno Concluded. London.
LANGER S. K. ( 1942). Philosophy in a New Key. Harvard.

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Models and Analogues in Biology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Quantum Physics and Biology† 1
  • Models in Genetics 6
  • Kinetic Models of Development And Heredity 13
  • Tissues in Culture and in the Body 28
  • References 40
  • Models of Muscle 41
  • References 66
  • Mechanical Models in Zoology 69
  • Conclusions 82
  • Physical Models in Biology 83
  • Estimation of Values Of Parameters of a Model to Conform With Observations 102
  • Summary 120
  • Applications of Theoretical Models to the Study of Flight- Behaviour in Locusts and Birds 122
  • References 138
  • Electrical Analogues in Biology 140
  • Computers and the Nervous System 152
  • References 168
  • Models in Cybernetics 169
  • References 190
  • Modelling of Large-Scale Nervous Activity 192
  • Conclusions 197
  • Energy Models of Motivation 199
  • Summary 212
  • The Use of Models in the Teaching Of Embryology 214
  • School Biology as An Educational Model 230
  • Conclusion 241
  • The Problem of Communication In Biological Teaching 243
  • Acknowledge Ments 248
  • A Review of the Symposium: Models and Analogues in Biology 250
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