Reply-to: bbs at coglit.soton.ac.uk
Below is the abstract of the Precis of a book that will shortly be
circulated for Multiple Book Review in Behavioral and Brain
LIFELINES: PRECIS FOR BBS MULTIPLE REVIEW
by Steven Rose
BBS is an international, interdisciplinary journal providing Open Peer
Commentary on important and controversial current research in the
biobehavioral and cognitive sciences.
Reviewers must be BBS Associates or nominated by a BBS Associate. To
be considered as a reviewer for this book, to suggest other
appropriate reviewers, or for information about how to become a BBS
Associate, please send EMAIL to:
bbs at cogsci.soton.ac.uk
or write to:
Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Department of Psychology
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ UNITED KINGDOM
If you are not a BBS Associate, please send your CV and the name of a
BBS Associate (there are currently over 10,000 worldwide) who is
familiar with your work. All past BBS authors, referees and commentators
are eligible to become BBS Associates.
To help us put together a balanced list of commentators, please give
some indication of the aspects of the topic on which you would bring
your areas of expertise to bear if you were selected as a commentator.
An electronic draft of the full text is available for inspection
with a WWW browser, anonymous ftp or gopher according to the
instructions that follow after the abstract.
Please note that it is the book, not the Precis, that is to be reviewed.
It would be helpful if you indicated in your reply whether you already
have the book or would require a copy.
LIFELINES: BIOLOGY, FREEDOM, DETERMINISM
PRECIS FOR BBS MULTIPLE REVIEW
Professor of Biology and Director of the Brain
and Behaviour Research Group
Milton Keynes MK7 6AA
s.p.r.rose at open.ac.uk
KEYWORDS: Neurogenetics, Homeodynamics; evolutionary theory,
reductionism, ultra-Darwinism, autopoiesis; Metabolic webs,
self-organisation; developmental trajectories; Human behaviour
ABSTRACT: There are many ways of describing and explaining the
properties of living systems; causal, functional and reductive
accounts are all necessary, but no one has primacy. The history
of biology as a discipline has given excessive authority to
reductionism, which collapses higher level accounts, such as
social or behavioural, into molecular ones. Such reductionism
becomes crudely ideological when applied to the human condition
with its claims for genes 'for' everything from sexual
orientation to compulsive shopping. The current enthusiasm for
genetic and ultraDarwinist accounts, with their selfish gene
metaphors for living processes misunderstand both the phenomena
of development and the interactive role that DNA and the fluid
genome play in the cellular orchestra. DNA is not a blueprint,
and the four dimensions of life (three of space, one of time)
cannot be read off from its one-dimensional strand. Both
developmental and evolutionary processes are more than merely
instructive or selective; the organism constructs itself, a
process known as autopoiesis, through a lifeline trajectory.
Because organisms are thermodynamically open systems, living
processes are homeodynamic, not homeostatic. The self-organising
membrane-bound and energy-utilising metabolic web of the cell
must have evolved prior to so-called naked replicators.
Evolution is constrained by physics, chemistry and structure;
not all change is powered by natural selection, and not all
phenotypes are adaptive. Finally, therefore, living processes
are radically indeterminate; we, like but to an even greater
degree than all other living organisms, make our own future,
though in circumstances not of our own choosing.
To help you decide whether you would be an appropriate commentator for
this article, an electronic draft is retrievable from the World Wide
Web or by anonymous ftp or gopher from the US or UK BBS Archive.
Ftp instructions follow below. Please do not prepare a commentary on
this draft. Just let us know, after having inspected it, what relevant
expertise you feel you would bring to bear on what aspect of the
The URLs you can use to get to the BBS Archive:
To retrieve a file by ftp from an Internet site, type either:
When you are asked for your login, type:
Enter password as queried (your password is your actual userid:
yourlogin at yourhost.whatever.whatever - be sure to include the "@")
To show the available files, type:
Next, retrieve the file you want with (for example):
When you have the file(s) you want, type: