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How the Leopard Changed Its Spots: The Evolution of Complexity

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times - David Papineau
[Goodwin's] book genuinely illuminates the mysteries of biological development.
From the Publisher

"[Goodwin's] book genuinely illuminates the mysteries of biological development."--David Papineau, New York Times
New York Times
[Goodwin's] book genuinely illuminates the mysteries of biological development.
— David Papineau
David Papineau
[Goodwin's] book genuinely illuminates the mysteries of biological development.
New York Times
Booknews
"Survival of the fittest" has become a popular modern slogan. Ever since the publication of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection in 1859, this perspective has dominated biology and influenced corporate planning, politics, and other arenas. Goodwin, a biologist, demonstrates the flaws in the quasi-religious fervous with which Darwin's theory is defended and elucidates its weaknesses, proposing a sophisticated alternative which synthesizes biology with dynamic theories from other sciences. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691088099
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/29/2001
  • Series: Princeton Science Library Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 275
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents


Preface to the Princeton Science Library Edition vii
Preface xi
Acknowledgements xix
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
References 238
Further Reading 242
Index 245
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