Accessible updates on the technical literature; commentaries on that literature; and introductions (with links) to new articles associated with the “Biology Worthy of Life” project. The content in general relates to the dramatic discoveries re-shaping our understanding of organisms. The current focus is on gene regulation, evolution, and the meaning of organic wholeness — all of which can make for some occasionally wide-ranging excursions. Notes, commentaries, and articles are by Stephen L. Talbott of The Nature Institute.

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  • How does the yet-unrealized form of a mature animal become the ‘goal’ of the animal’s embryological development? How can we understand future-directed causation and top-down causation in biology?
  • All science is experienced-based. We have a conflicted attitude toward this truth, believing as we do that science must be empirical (based on experience), while at the same time we denigrate experience as merely subjective. Freeing ourselves from this contradiction is a...

  • There are two central themes in the book, “Evolution As It Was Meant To Be — And the Living Narratives That Tell Its Story”: 1) every organism comprises more than a set of physical and chemical interactions, but possesses an agency through which it weaves a life sto...

  • When we look at organic development, we see powers of directed change in the only place where they ever appear — in living organisms. These powers can hardly be irrelevant to evolution.
  • Causes and effects are never neatly separable in organisms. Over and above physical causation, we discover a story-like coordination of causes. Biologists widely recognize this, but nevertheless try to describe biological processes as if they were nothing but a successio...

  • In living beings, structure arises from movement, not the other way around. Movement and transformation are primary. This is particularly evident in recent discoveries about the functioning of disordered proteins and about the importance of phase transitions in the cyto...

  • The key ideas of natural selection are commonly presented in the form of a core logic, or algorithm, that leads, with absolute certainty, to meaningful evolution. In reality, this logic is empty, and all the meaning depends upon what organism-agents actually do. By itself,...

  • All biological description involves narrative (story-like) elements, including purposiveness, intention, and, in general, more-than-physical meanings. But, while employing such description constantly, biologists prefer not to acknowledge it or account for it in their the...

  • RNA splicing and, in some organisms, the reconstruction of shattered genomes (and, in all organisms, the processes of DNA damage repair) illustrate the coherent, holistic, end-directed, epigenetic performance of living narratives.
  • Every organism, and indeed every significant biological entity from a cell on up, is a governing context that informs and disciplines its own parts, while also participating in larger contexts; and the governance is established by the interwoven ideas that make the contex...

  • The cytoskeleton and cellular membranes illustrate both the integral unity of the cell and also the temptation to isolate parts in our thought as ‘controlling’ causes. In reality, we discover in every cell the power of the whole to express itself through its parts.

  • The idea of DNA as an informational sequence encoding a genetic program is giving way to a much more dynamic idea involving three-dimensional chromosomes that actively gesture their meanings
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