Read What Makes Biology Unique?: Considerations on the Autonomy of a Scientific Discipline by Ernst W. Mayr Online

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This collection of revised and new essays argues that biology is an autonomous science rather than a branch of the physical sciences. Ernst Mayr, widely considered the most eminent evolutionary biologist of the 20th century, offers insights on the history of evolutionary thought, critiques the conditions of philosophy to the science of biology, and comments on several of tThis collection of revised and new essays argues that biology is an autonomous science rather than a branch of the physical sciences. Ernst Mayr, widely considered the most eminent evolutionary biologist of the 20th century, offers insights on the history of evolutionary thought, critiques the conditions of philosophy to the science of biology, and comments on several of the major developments in evolutionary theory. Notably, Mayr explains that Darwin's theory of evolution is actually five separate theories, each with its own history, trajectory and impact. Ernst Mayr, commonly referred to as the "Darwin of the 20th century" and listed as one of the top 100 scientists of all-time, is Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. What Makes Biology Unique is the 25th book he has written during his long and prolific career. His recent books include This is Biology: The Science of the Living World (Belknap Press, 1997) and What Evolution Is (Basic Books, 2002)....

Title : What Makes Biology Unique?: Considerations on the Autonomy of a Scientific Discipline
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ISBN : 9780521700344
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 232 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

What Makes Biology Unique?: Considerations on the Autonomy of a Scientific Discipline Reviews

  • Willis Oliveira
    2019-03-06 16:53

    É o meu primeiro contato com um livro do Ernst W. Mayr e acredito ter tido sorte, já que temos aqui uma espécie de compilados de seus ensaios, que funcionam tanto como revisão de textos presentes em obras anteriores, como mesmo um convite à essas obras, inclusive pelo autor se referir à muitas delas como análises mais profundas sobre certos temas apresentados em Biologia, Ciência Única - Reflexões sobre a autonomia de uma disciplina científica.Embora sejam ensaios, tratando principalmente sobre evolução e filosofia da biologia, e partindo da cabeça de um cientista cunhado como o "Darwin do século XX", cada capítulo consegue transmitir, através de uma linguagem simples e acessível, conhecimento histórico, reflexões sobre a biologia e sua posição nos contextos científico e filosófico e ainda uma revisão superficial, mas concreta, sobre os componentes da Teoria da Evolução, ou melhor, Teorias da Evolução.A escrita de Ernst realmente me surpreendeu e eu só posso ver esse livro como um ótimo divulgador científico e um roteiro para uma aula mais bem elaborada sobre as ideias de Darwin, acrescentando um pouco mais de história e, estreando uma abordagem mais filosófica (não deve ser comum um professor, sobretudo no Brasil, que dê algum espaço para uma visão mais filosófica sobre o assunto, ou mesmo que atenda mais a necessidade da questão histórica, que normalmente é passada de forma muito "mecânica", preocupando-se basicamente com um sequencialismo de eventos importantes - ao mesmo tempo é exigir muito de um professor com um cronograma tão apertado).Seria interessantíssimo que se ensinasse, desde as séries primárias, que o mundo está sempre se modificando. Não falo necessariamente em ensinar evolução, mas acho que abrimos mais a cabeça quando pensamos que existe uma história do universo, uma história da Terra, uma história da vida, uma história do homem. E que como toda história, ela evolui, ou seja, vai se modificando. E que essa modificação dá origem à elementos químicos diferentes, planetas diferentes, seres vivos diferentes, culturas diferentes. Pois é, veja como esse assunto é libertador, estou simplesmente voando.Apesar de toda acessibilidade, ainda assim me senti encurralado no capítulo 10, "Um outro olhar sobre o problema da espécie". Um dos capítulos mais longos e, no meu caso, o mais complicado.Além das questões sobre filosofia da biologia, evolução, seleção natural, definição de espécie, e outros, Mayr encerra sua obra com um tópico mais especulativo sobre a história natural da evolução humana, referindo-se a atual precariedade do registro fóssil (cap. 11 - A origem dos seres humanos), e outro mais incrédulo e mesmo crítico sobre as propostas e gastos com a busca de vida inteligente (ou mesmo de vida simples) fora da Terra (cap.12 - Estamos sozinhos neste vasto universo?). Sobre este último, Ernst separa os físicos e astrônomos como otimistas e biólogos como pessimistas... bom, não sei quanto aos grandes biólogos, mas tenho notado muito otimismo nas redes sociais dos biólogos em relação à possibilidade de vida simples no Universo. Com relação à vida inteligente, noto que realmente não existe tanto anseio, mesmo que em geral apoiem, ou ao menos não se incomodem, com programas como o SETI. Um trecho da alfinetada:"O que não consigo entender é por que os setianos procuram traços de vida com tanta determinação. Encontrá-la seria um acidente muito improvável. A busca, portanto, será presumivelmente infrutífera. Isso nada provará, porque a vida poderia de fato existir em algum outro lugar, mas estar inacessível à nossa busca. Se a vida, na forma de organismos similares a bactérias, for de repente encontrada, isso nos diria muito pouco. Sim, arranjos moleculares vivos poderiam surgir ocasionalmente. E daí? Será que isso vale florestas úmidas tropicais da Terra. Mas essa tarefa urgente é negligenciada em favor da possível descoberta de algumas bactérias fósseis em Marte. Será que não deveríamos organizar uma busca por inteligência terrestre?"Lerei em breve outros livros do autor com maior imersão sobre tais assuntos.

  • Atila Iamarino
    2019-03-19 16:00

    Como me arrependo de ter adiado a leitura desse livro. Fantástico. A amarração das ideias, a apresentação da diferença entre biologia e ciências exatas, a descrição dos pontos defendidos por Darwin. É impressionante a lucidez de Mayr ao escrever esse livro com mais de 90 anos e o quão evidente fica a experiência dele em cada parágrafo.

  • Bill
    2019-02-25 13:55

    This collection of revised and new articles reads as smoothy as if it had been written as a single piece. Each chapter provides a distillation of ideas in Mayr's long career and gives ample food for thought about evolutionary issues and often highlights disagreements within biology about certain points (such as the factors which caused Australopithecus to develop into Homo). It is entirely refreshing in its treatment of creationism--briefly mentioned and quickly dismissed; the reader does not have to slog through a chapter that seems to be otherwise requisite in popular treatments on evolutionary theory published in the United States.The final essay/chapter is a bit disappointing. Mayr's voice suddenly becomes strident when he discusses the improbability of intelligent and technologically advanced extraterrestrial life. While I agree with his assessment that it is of a vanishingly small probability that such life can be found in our galaxy, I was disappointed that Mayr did not address how the unlikely discovery of extraterrestrial neighbors might alter evolutionary thought. Rather than address this, Mayr seems to have an axe to grind against the space program and SETI, launching into a screed against these programs as if funding of space exploration diminishes biological discovery. (While this may be the case, Mayr does not address this as a policy or funding issue, instead focussing on SETI and the then-failure of the Mars exploration program.)Highly recommended, just gloss over the final chapter.

  • Peter
    2019-03-10 15:05

    At some point I realized that basically everyone who is well known in the philosophy of science, everywhere on the positivist-anarchist spectrum, writes very selectively about a very small number of "test cases" -- planetary astronomy, relativity and quantum mechanics, phlogiston, and -- and thus we have "debates" in philosophy of science between competing "theories" that might work well for physics, but are all completely inapplicable to geology, biology, psychology, or, well, anything naturalistic. Mayr makes this very clear and deserves many stars just for acknowledging it, and by attempting to describe the different processes by which biologists attempt to explain things.This is more of a collection of essays than a long argument in favor of a particular thesis -- but provides some useful insight into how evolutionary biology works, from someone who was fairly central to the construction of the discipline.There are some missteps -- one chapter arguing against reductionism purely on the straw grounds that reductionists break down systems into components but do not consider interactions between those components. The example is literally and sincerely given, that a hammer cannot be understood by splitting it into a head and a handle without understanding how they interact,therefore no reductionism! This was so stupid that I did not continue reading for quite some time.

  • eric
    2019-03-16 12:42

    this book actually consists of a mix of previous and new essays by the evolutionary biologist and philosopher of science ernst mayr. it is a fairly technical treatise describing, among other things, why biology cannot be analyzed according the reductionist principles that have guided the physical sciences. as such, i wouldn't necessarily recommend it to the non-scientist. on the other hand if the physical or biological scientist reader can forgive the elder statesman some philosophical grumpiness that likely stems from having long lasting arguments with people he considers not so bright (scientists and others), then the essays serve as technical summary of darwin's work which actually consists of five independent ideas: evolution as such, common descent, multiplication of species, gradualism and natural selection. there are also some historical chapters on how these ideas were finally accepted and how they have impacted modern thinking. in summary, this book is full of interesting ideas as well as some technical details that should surprise even those fairly well versed in evolutionary theory.

  • Larry
    2019-02-27 12:41

    Mayr was the one of foremost scholars of evolutionary biology since Darwin. In this collection of essays, published just months before his death at the age of 100, Mayr discusses why Biology is a science different from all others, and why Darwin's Theory of Evolution by means of Natural Selection is actually 5 theories that can be independently tested. It is this observation that goes a long way to understanding the difficulties in the acceptance of Darwin's work. Mayr was a scientist of great intellect and equally great ego (deservedly), well known for his statement "I'm not dogmatic; I'm simply right." This aspect of Mayr comes out throughout this well reasoned, well researched and well notated masterpiece.

  • Garrett Mccutcheon
    2019-02-23 17:43

    Mayr lays out his vision of a philosophy of science as it concerns biology. In doing so, he provides clear and concise refutations of a number of philosophies that other authors have put forward. Mayr occasionally could be accused of making an argument from authority; however, one could say that he's earned the right to make those arguments. It should be noted that this work draws heavily on prior works of Mayr's and as such serves mostly as a primer or condensed description of his philosophy.

  • Jason Gordon
    2019-03-19 20:45

    A really incredible book. Ernst Mayr is quite a smart scientist and an excellent philosopher. Philosophers of science as well as physicists have a lot to learn from this text.