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RE: Essentialism and such (was a bunch of previous subject lines)
> Since I began my part in this by dragging in poor Webster and Goodwin, I
> ought to give them a chance to present an outline of their view.
> In "Form and Transformation: Generative and Relational Principles in
> Biology" Gerry Webster writes:
> "...the position adopted in this book is that the causal mechanism
> responsible for the production of empirical morphologies is that
> structure of the organism referred to in the classical literature as the
> morphogenetic field. I have also suggested that morphogenetic fields
> should be regarded as putative natural kinds. From this perspective,
> the theory... is a Theory of Field Structure and, as Goodwin will
> explain, the embryological and genetic transformations... should be
> understood as field transformations.
> Typology? Essentialism? (Is there a difference?) I don't know, but I
> hope it's of interest.
Actually, "pseudoscience" is the word you are looking for...
Although the morphogenetic field is good enough to give Animal Man his
powers (at least back in the Grant Morrison days), there is no evidence it
See, among other places, the review of Sheldrake's A New Science of Life
(the central work on morphogenetic fields) in Nature 293 (5830): 245-246.
Some quotes: "Sheldrake's argument is an exercise in pseudo-science."
"Many readers will be left with the impression that Sheldrake has
succeeded in finding a place for magic within scientific discussion ? and
this, indeed, may have been a part of the objective of writing such a
A review of the subject here: http://skepdic.com/morphicres.html
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Department of Geology Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland College Park Scholars
Building 237, Room 1117
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: 301-405-4084 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax (Geol): 301-314-9661 Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796