Do genes explain life? Can advances in evolutionary and molecular biology account for what we look like, how we behave, and why we die? In this powerful intervention into current biological thinking, Brian Goodwin argues that such genetic reductionism has important limits.
Drawing on the sciences of complexity, the author shows how an understanding of the self-organizing patterns of networks is necessary for making sense of nature. Genes are important, but only as part of a process constrained by environment, physical laws, and the universal tendencies of complex adaptive systems. In a new preface for this edition, Goodwin reflects on the advances in both genetics and the sciences of complexity since the book's original publication.
"[Goodwin's] book genuinely illuminates the mysteries of biological development."--David Papineau, New York Times
"This is a brilliant book, wonderfully written. . . . Goodwin is a real scholar, of great breadth and insight. He writes beautifully, conveying difficult themes in an exciting manner."--Simon Levin, Princeton University
Table of Contents:
Preface to the Princeton Science Library Edition vii
Chapter 1 Whatever Happened to Organisms? 1
Chapter 2 How the Leopard Got Its Spots 18
Chapter 3 Life, the Excitable Medium 42
Chapter 4 Living Form in the Making 77
Chapter 5 The Evolution of Generic Forms 115
Chapter 6 New Directions, New metaphors 169
Chapter 7 A Science of Qualities 196
Further Reading 242
Hardcover published by Scribner in 1994
Paperback: Not for sale in the European Union