Overcoming the Newtonian Paradigm: The Unfinished Project of Theoretical Biology from a Schellingian Perspective

Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 113:5-24 (2013)
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Abstract

Defending Robert Rosen’s claim that in every confrontation between physics and biology it is physics that has always had to give ground, it is shown that many of the most important advances in mathematics and physics over the last two centuries have followed from Schelling’s demand for a new physics that could make the emergence of life intelligible. Consequently, while reductionism prevails in biology, many biophysicists are resolutely anti-reductionist. This history is used to identify and defend a fragmented but progressive tradition of anti-reductionist biomathematics. It is shown that the mathematicoephysico echemical morphology research program, the biosemiotics movement, and the relational biology of Rosen, although they have developed independently of each other, are built on and advance this antireductionist tradition of thought. It is suggested that understanding this history and its relationship to the broader history of post-Newtonian science could provide guidance for and justify both the integration of these strands and radically new work in post-reductionist biomathematics.

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Arran Gare
Swinburne University of Technology

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