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Entries in Marxism (10)

Saturday
Oct242009

REFLECTIONS ON SPIRITUALITY AND SCIENCE

I am delighted that the Networker ( January 2000) is opening up discussion on spirituality and science. For most of my life I have been uncomfortable with the term “spirituality” because it seemed to imply religion, but I now accept its common usage as pertaining to our deepest values and feelings. Although I had intended for some time to write on the subject, what finally got me to do it was the quote from Sheldrake about a “mechanistic-atheistic worldview …[that] portrays a disenchanted, unmagical reality proceeding entirely mechanically”. By 1991, when Sheldrake wrote, there could be no excuse for ignoring the traditions also of a non-mechanistic, dialectical atheism that sees the world as evolving with emergent discontinuities and always full of surprises. I write from that place.

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Saturday
Oct242009

Living the 11th Thesis

This is a slightly edited text of a presentation at the plenary panel on combining the scholarly and activist life, at the meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, Guelph, Ontario July 16, 2005.

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Saturday
Oct242009

Schmalhausen's Law

Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen1 was a Soviet evolutionary biologist working at the Academy of Sciences in Minsk. In the 1940's his book "Factors of Evolution" appeared and was denounced by T.D. Lysenko, whose neo-Lamarckian theories of genetics were then on the ascendency. At the close of the 1948 Congress of the Timiryazev Academy of Agricultural Science it was revealed that Stalin had endorsed Lysenko's report to the Congress in which it was affirmed that the environment can alter the hereditary makeup of organisms in a directed way by altering their development. A number of opponents of Lysenko's views then took the floor to reverse themselves and support Lysenko. Schmalhausen was one of the few who reaffirmed his opposition and spent the rest of his life in his laboratory studying fish evolution and morphology.

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Saturday
Oct242009

Schmalhausen's Law

Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen1 was a Soviet evolutionary biologist working at the Academy of Sciences in Minsk. In the 1940's his book "Factors of Evolution" appeared and was denounced by T.D. Lysenko, whose neo-Lamarckian theories of genetics were then on the ascendency. At the close of the 1948 Congress of the Timiryazev Academy of Agricultural Science it was revealed that Stalin had endorsed Lysenko's report to the Congress in which it was affirmed that the environment can alter the hereditary makeup of organisms in a directed way by altering their development. A number of opponents of Lysenko's views then took the floor to reverse themselves and support Lysenko. Schmalhausen was one of the few who reaffirmed his opposition and spent the rest of his life in his laboratory studying fish evolution and morphology.

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Thursday
Oct222009

5 Questions in Evolutionary Theory: Interviews

My grandfather was a self-educated socialist who believed that every worker should know at least evolution, cosmology, and history. His views of evolution were Lamarckian, and that primed me to be fascinated by Lysenko’s critique of genetics that seemed so dynamic compared to the “bean bag genetics” we got in high school.  At the same time I met Marxist dialectics through the works of Haldane, Bernal, Needham, and Oparin. I dreamed interactions, connectivity, contradiction, wholeness and developed an aesthetic of complexity. In college I tried some Lysenkoist experiments (graft hybridization of tomatoes, the effects of pollen mixtures in corn) that turned out inconclusive for technical reasons.

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