Jacques Monod's Scientific Analysis and Its Reductionistic Interpretation

Numerous critiques of Monod's biophilosophical ideas have created a picture of an eminent scientist whose philosophical considerations are founded on the old-fashioned cartesian world-view, and he is still cited as one of the strongest and most radical reductionists in contemporary biology. Yet in his scientific papers, published in the early sixties, Monod defends an idea which suggests a quite different interpretation of the cellular control systems. This idea persists in his later book "Chance and Necessity", contradicting his own mechanistic and reductionistic inferences. In his scientific analysis Monod reveals not only the molecular mechanisms of the teleonomical performances of the cell, but also their biological specificity, which does not allow for their reduction to merely chemical processes, although they are grounded on such processes and can be explained by them. However, in his philosophical interpretation of teleonomy he remains at the level of the chemical basis of these processes and does not take into account their biological specificity. If one abstracts Monod's scientific analysis from his philosophical interpretation, one can find in the former some ideas suggesting a different, non-mechanistic interpretation of biological phenomena.
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DOI 10.2307/192765
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