September 2020


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Fri, 25 Sep 2020 21:58:03 -0400
Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Jonathan Latham <[log in to unmask]>
Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear Mitchel

The contention of my book will be that this question, whether life develops based on a genetic programme or whether it develops in a completely different way (and I highly recommend the book Stuart cites by Moreno and Mossio ( and what that way is, is, in many ways, the central question of science. The Moreno and Mossio book is representative of the great progress that has been made in developing alternative theories to the basically indefensible genetic programme theory and I would urge people to understand why this all might be so important and to try to understand the alternatives. Stuart’s publication is part of this process but what I hope to contribute is to show that ultimately the paradigm of the genetic programme is, at bottom, a political theory. It is intended solely to support the idea of a genetic elite who gain/hold power through inheritance. Such a position (that genetic determinism is false) REQUIRES that there is another explanation for the emergence and development of life. If you understand biology deeply enough that is no insurmountable problem and my book will be a guide to such an understanding. But it requires shedding metaphors and understandings that are basically ubiquitous among biologists (except ones familar with M and M and also, for example, the works of Robert Rosen). A useful and simple introduction to all this is Steven Rose’s Lifelines. And people familiar with the history of SFTP as it pertains to Genetics will perhaps gather that the book I am writing is a continuation of historical SFTP lines of thought.
It is my guess that developing such theories may be the only longterm way of getting ourselves out of the hellhole we are making for ourselves on Earth.


> On Sep 25, 2020, at 8:42 AM, Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> This essay, written by my friend Stuart Newman two years ago, might interest you.
> I've reformatted it and attached it here as a PDF.
> Stuart is a cell biologist at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY, and is one of the  world's key dialectical thinkers in science and biology.
> This is not everyone's "cup of tea", but for me everything Stuart investigates and writes is of great interest, so I thought those who are also interested in that topic might discuss it here.
> As my brain recovers gradually from three years of "trouble" caused by too little oxygen (due to beta blockers I'd been taking, which slowed my heart too much while I slept) -- and yet somehow I wrote my Monsanto book during that time! -- I've been recovering pieces I'd been working on using the same general philosophical approach, trying to understand what some call "emergent properties" and Chaos theory, and how Life "self-develops" and sorts itself.
> It was Stuart Newman -- along with Richard Levins, Martha Herbert, Douglas Hofstadter, Bertell Ollman, Silvia Federici, Kamran Nayeri, Brian Tokar, Howie Cohen, Vandana Shiva, and Petros Evdokas (and tripping a lot on mescaline and acid) got me to thinking for many decades of how what we call "consciousness" emerges from physical clusters of cells, how ecosystems emerge and sustain ..... and how that understanding can be applied to political consciousness / class consciousness as well, although I grant it is a very large leap ....
> Mitchel<Emergence of Form & Function.pdf>

Jonathan Latham, PhD
Executive Director
The Bioscience Resource Project, 
Ithaca, NY 14850 USA


Tel: 1-607-319-0279
Skype: jonathanlatham2
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Notice: Please forgive any delays and slow news. I am writing a book about genetics and genetic determinism.

It is provisionally titled: The Myth of The Master Molecule: DNA and the Social Order

The contention of the book is that the key organising principle of Western thought is the seemingly innocuous and seemingly simple idea that our personal qualities are biologically inherited. That is, our character derives from our ancestors rather than being an always-adapting product of our own experiences, decisions, and education. The book makes the case, first, that genetic determinism is a scientific fallacy. Organisms are self-organised systems and therefore are not genetically determined. Second, the explanation for the myth, which originated in Mesopotamia before 6,000 years ago, is its utility. Genetic determinism rationalises political systems based on genetic privilege. The result was the dismantling of ancient cultures based on inclusiveness and egalitarianiism and their transformation into rigid structures of authoritarian domination based on separation and division: into families, classes, races, nations, sexes (i.e. patriarchy), and species. The final proposition of the book is that propagating the myth was the chief aim of Zoroastrianism and all the Abrahamic religions. Since the 1850s, this role has been appropriated by science. By recognizing how the founding myth of Western civilization is being re-told in the language of science we can start to dismantle and replace it with a more humane and scientific understanding of the world.