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Biology Revisioned

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Biology Revisioned is a controversial science book by American engineer Willis Harman and Greek-American evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris. It was published by North Atlantic Books in 1998.

Overview[edit]

The book advocates a form of "holistic biology" which the authors wish to replace what they call reductionistic science. Harman and Sahtouris take influence from the work of Mae-Wan Ho, James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis and Rupert Sheldrake.

According to Harman and Sahtouris the universe and everything in it should be seen as living systems and they criticise western science for ignoring this view. The book takes the Gaia hypothesis to the extreme by promoting the holistic view that not only Gaia itself is conscious but consciousness is an underlying layer of physical reality found at all levels of nature from particles to atoms, cells and organisms. The book argues to look at wholes (organism and ecological systems) prior to parts (fundamental particles).[1]

A Biology that sees all nature as co-evolving holons (living entities) in holarchies (interdependent embeddedness) will quickly reveal much about humanity itself as one such holon-containing its own holarchy of individuals, families, organizations, communities, nations and world. Through this understanding of ourselves, we will gain profound insights on where we succeed and where we fail as a living system...
—Elisabet Sahtouris in Biology Revisioned

Harman and Sahtouris argue that organisms are self-organizing intelligent systems, rather than mechanical Darwinian accidents.[2] They strongly criticise neo-Darwinism for being reductionistic and for reducing nature to nothing but "gene machines". The book advocates non-Darwinian evolution and discusses how organisms in some case can direct their own evolution. The book endorses self-organization, and autopoiesis (self-creation) as the definition of life and replaces certain scientific principles with new holistic terminology such as "holons" and "holarchies".

The book also endorses elements of eastern spirituality and research from consciousness studies in parapsychology.

Reception[edit]

The book has been criticised to resorting to mysticism and spirituality.[3] Whilst the book does contain some science it is generally seen as a new age book.

References[edit]