This first book in a series about deep structure in biology is an introduction to the history and impetus behind “neo-adaptationism.”
Hann has been active in leading the charge toward a synthesis of evolutionary biology and functional biology. In this book, he presents the background leading up to this synthesis. Starting with interspecies comparative studies—from which modern evolutionary biology has been built—Hann illustrates the advantages offered by approaching these subjects via intraspecies studies. Various case studies are offered as an aid. The book is focused primarily around two themes: First, the extensive evidence that the intraspecific comparison system has brought to bear on both traditional functional biology and traditional evolutionary biology theories; second, the fault that lies between these two primary areas—functional emphasizes the quantifiable, evolutionary the qualitative. The tone of the writing is, however, often lackluster and the book would have benefited from a judicious use of diagrams. Familiarity with the book’s concerns will certainly help the reader keep up with the book’s rather fast pace; however, it seems to slow upon reaching the middle. This central section deals with the motivation behind the aforementioned synthesis—a bridging of the fault, as it were. Neo-adaptationism attempts to bridge this fault and show how deep structure is at the root of all studies on adaptation. Hann finishes the book with an exploration of the work of Lorenz and his idea—which Hann terms “Lorenz’s Conjecture”—that manages to realize a new understanding of biology via a reducible unified unit named “biological vitastate.”
An important addition to the study of evolutionary biology and its synthesis with functional biology, which will be of interest to many for the issues it raises and the new directions it offers.