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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
actually exists.

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
        Mailing Address:
                Building 237, Room 1117
                College Park, MD  20742

Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796