APPROACHES TO A PHILOSOPHICAL BIOLOGY by Marjorie Grene

APPROACHES TO A PHILOSOPHICAL BIOLOGY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It has been said that English philosophy is really Scottish (Hume) or Irish (Berkeley), But German philosophy is German; no matter what metaphysic is being expounded there is a tradition of expressions like Umgrund, Umwelt, Urbild, Inncrlichkcit, u.s.w., words which convey ultimate grounds, archetypal images, I-ness, inner-self-ness, and the like. These thoughts come to mind very strongly in reading Marjorie Grene's scholarly exposition of the points of view of four German and one Dutch scientist-philosophers. All have worked in psychology, physiology, or neurology, and all expressed theses on the nature of biology, its foundation and techniques, in papers written 25 or 30 years ago. These are the sources for Miss Grene's exegetical platform from which she attacks Cartesian dualism and the English tradition of atomistic philosophies from Newtonianism down to neo-Darwinism, cybernetics and molecular biology. All of these are lumped together as reductionist theories bent on explaining (away) the functioning of living organisms in psychochemical terms. In contrast to these she offers the holistic concepts of these European philosophies, each with his own neologisms to convey man's unique nature; his wholeness, the need to study him as a special dynamic individual changing in time and space.. . . Her style is sophisticated and she is not uncritical of the gentlemen she wishes to bring to the English-speaking world's attention. However (and this is probably true of all works of philosophy), it is not a work which will persuade molecular biologists to change their tunes or their experiments.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Basic Books