Reflections on Ernst Mayr's this is biology

Biology and Philosophy 14 (1):103-116 (1999)
In this essay I argue that Ernst Mayr's idea that the emergence of evolutionary biology in Western thought was delayed by the pernicious influence of the false ideologies of Platonism, Christianity, and physicalism is ahistorical and anti-evolutionary, that similar ideas, especially his antipathy to physicalism, prejudice his account of the transformation of natural history and medical science into biology, that his organicist resolution of the perennial conflict between mechanism and vitalism is an unstable compound of semi-holism and semi-mechanism, that his conception of biology as the true bridge between the sciences and the humanities, ethics, and social theory is open to question (especially as to the adequacy of the theory of natural selection to account for every aspect of human nature), and that his depiction of science as the sovereign key to understanding everything known to exist or happen in this universe cannot be justified at the bar of reason.
Keywords biology  creationism  cultural evolution  Darwinian revolution  essentialism  ethics  holism  human nature  natural selection  organicism  physicalism  science  teleology
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DOI 10.1023/A:1006544406231
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