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The non-mendelian revolution: a conceptual reinterpretation of the genetic revolution

Koen Tanghe UGent (2013)
abstract
In 1989, Peter J. Bowler called the Mendelian revolution a revolution of major conceptual proportions. It was one which, he said, might ultimately even have to be regarded as at least as important a transformation in our ideas about life as ‘the Darwinian debate’, even though its effects are not as immediately visible as those of that debate. The genetic revolution has, indeed, like other major scientific revolutions, been accompanied by an important paradigm shift. The main reason why, in sharp contrast to those other revolutions, it is still not identified with that profound change in our thinking, is simple: the full effects of the genetic paradigm shift indeed only became clearly visible long after it started in the 19th century. The new, genecentric interpretation of life was, to be precise, explicitated and, to a certain extent, elaborated in 1976, in the second most popular science book of the 20th century: The Selfish Gene. It revolves around the simple but profound and radical idea that somas are mere survival machines of genes. This doctoral thesis not only charts the genecentric paradigm shift, but also explains why the new interpretation of life was only explicitated in 1976. Last but not least, it argues that a reinterpretation of the history of genetics in terms of this paradigm shift is heuristically interesting in that it sheds new and clarifying light on a large number of historical and contemporary issues, ranging from Gregor Mendel’s experiments and their ‘rediscovery’ in 1900, Lamarckism, Darwin’s theory of evolution and the nature/nurture debate, to the discovery of DNA, the emotion revolution and the selfish gene theory itself. Some long-debated, profound questions will never be resolved, as long as we don’t learn to think about the genetic revolution in terms of the genecentric paradigm shift that made it possible.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
promoter
UGent
organization
year
type
dissertation
publication status
published
subject
keyword
genetics, Dawkins, genecentrism, organismcentrism, Weismann
pages
478 pages
publisher
Department of Philosophy and moral sciences
place of publication
Ghent, Belgium
defense location
Gent: Auditorium (Zebrastraat 32)
defense date
2013-05-23 16:00
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
D1
copyright statement
I have retained and own the full copyright for this publication
id
3256407
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-3256407
date created
2013-06-13 14:08:46
date last changed
2017-01-16 10:41:46
@phdthesis{3256407,
  abstract     = {In 1989, Peter J. Bowler called the Mendelian revolution a revolution of major conceptual proportions. It was one which, he said, might ultimately even have to be regarded as at least as important a transformation in our ideas about life as {\textquoteleft}the Darwinian debate{\textquoteright}, even though its effects are not as immediately visible as those of that debate. The genetic revolution has, indeed, like other major scientific revolutions, been accompanied by an important paradigm shift. The main reason why, in sharp contrast to those other revolutions, it is still not identified with that profound change in our thinking, is simple: the full effects of the genetic paradigm shift indeed only became clearly visible long after it started in the 19th century. The new, genecentric interpretation of life was, to be precise, explicitated and, to a certain extent, elaborated in 1976, in the second most popular science book of the 20th century: The Selfish Gene. It revolves around the simple but profound and radical idea that somas are mere survival machines of genes. This doctoral thesis not only charts the genecentric paradigm shift, but also explains why the new interpretation of life was only explicitated in 1976. Last but not least, it argues that a reinterpretation of the history of genetics in terms of this paradigm shift is heuristically interesting in that it sheds new and clarifying light on a large number of historical and contemporary issues, ranging from Gregor Mendel{\textquoteright}s experiments and their {\textquoteleft}rediscovery{\textquoteright} in 1900, Lamarckism, Darwin{\textquoteright}s theory of evolution and the nature/nurture debate, to the discovery of DNA, the emotion revolution and the selfish gene theory itself. Some long-debated, profound questions will never be resolved, as long as we don{\textquoteright}t learn to think about the genetic revolution in terms of the genecentric paradigm shift that made it possible.},
  author       = {Tanghe, Koen},
  keyword      = {genetics,Dawkins,genecentrism,organismcentrism,Weismann},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {478},
  publisher    = {Department of Philosophy and moral sciences},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {The non-mendelian revolution: a conceptual reinterpretation of the genetic revolution},
  year         = {2013},
}

Chicago
Tanghe, Koen. 2013. “The Non-mendelian Revolution: a Conceptual Reinterpretation of the Genetic Revolution”. Ghent, Belgium: Department of Philosophy and moral sciences.
APA
Tanghe, K. (2013). The non-mendelian revolution: a conceptual reinterpretation of the genetic revolution. Department of Philosophy and moral sciences, Ghent, Belgium.
Vancouver
1.
Tanghe K. The non-mendelian revolution: a conceptual reinterpretation of the genetic revolution. [Ghent, Belgium]: Department of Philosophy and moral sciences; 2013.
MLA
Tanghe, Koen. “The Non-mendelian Revolution: a Conceptual Reinterpretation of the Genetic Revolution.” 2013 : n. pag. Print.