In the course of the 20th century the so-called Modern Synthesis of Neo-Darwinism has become the dominant paradigm in modern biology. First, it is explained how and why Darwin’s broad definition of evolution, in which the environment plays an important role, was narrowed down by Neo-Darwinism to a radical gene-centric view. Next, the paradigm shift taking place today in ‘postgenomic’ evolutionary biology and genetics is discussed. It is argued that this shift opens the way to a more humane conception of evolution, more in line with Darwin’s view. Finally, I will discuss some of the implications of this paradigm shift for human self-reflection, taking The Music of Life. Biology Beyond Genes of systems biologist Denis Noble as a starting point.
Neo-Darwinism, Dennis Noble, gene-centrism, postgenomics, agency, human self-reflection
How to cite
de Mul, Jos. “Human Nature after Neo-Darwinism.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 1, no. 1 (2017): 5–17. https://doi.org/10.26319/EIDOS-001-HUMAN-NATURE.
Jos de Mul
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Alford, C. Fred. “Responsibility Without Freedom. Must Antihumanism Be Inhumane? Some implications of Greek tragedy for the post-modern subject.” Theory and Society 21, no. 2 (1992): 157–181.
Arai, Junko A., Shaomin Li, Dean M. Hartley and Larry A. Feig. “Transgenerational rescue of a genetic defect in long-term potentiation and memory formation by juvenile enrichment.” The Journal of Neuroscience 29, no. 5 (2009): 1496–1502.
Badyaev, Alexander V. and Tobias Uller. “Parental Effects in Ecology and Evolution: Mechanisms, Processes and Implications.” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 364 (2009): 1169–1177.
Beurton, Peter J., Raphael Falk and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. The Concept of the Gene in Development and Evolution: Historical and Epistemological Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Bitbol Michel. “Downward Causation Without Foundations.” Synthese 185 (2012): 233–255.
Clayton Paul and Philip Davies. The Re-emergence of Emergence: the Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion. Oxford: New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Copland, Paul. “The Book of Life.” J Med Ethics 31 (2005): 278–279.
Crick, Francis Harry Compton. “Ideas On Protein Synthesis.” Accessed Apr. 30, 2017. http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/ResourceMetadata/SCBBFT.
Crick, Francis Harry Compton. “On Protein Synthesis.” Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology 12 (1958): 138–163.
Crick, Francis Harry Compton. “The central dogma of Molecular biology,” Nature 227 (1970): 561–563.
Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. New York: Mentor, 1958.
Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. 30th anniversary ed. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976.
De Koning A. P. Jason, Wanjun Gu, Todd A. Castoe, Mark A. Batzer and David D. Pollock. “Repetitive Elements May Comprise Over Two-Thirds of the Human Genome.” PLoS Genet, 7 (2011): e1002384.
De Mul, Jos. Romantic Desire in (Post)modern Art and Philosophy. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1999.
De Mul, Jos. “Philosophical Anthropology 2.0.” In Plessner’s Philosophical Anthropology. Perspectives and Prospects, edited by Jos de Mul, 457–475. Amsterdam/Chicago: Amsterdam University Press / US distribution: Chicago University Press, 2014.
De Mul, Jos. Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2014.
De Mul, Jos. The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey’s Hermeneutics of Life. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2004.
Dennett, Daniel. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. London: The Penguin Press, 1995.
Dilthey, Wilhelm, Poetry and Experience. Selected Works. Volume V, edited by Rudolf A. Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985, 227
El-Hani, Charbel Nino and Antonio Marcos Pereira. “Higher-level descriptions: why we should preserve them?” In Downward Causation: Minds, Bodies and Matter, edited by Peter Bogh Andersen, Claus Emmeche, Niels Ole Finnemann and Peder Voetmann Christiansen, 118–142. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.
Hume, David. Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.
Huxley, Julian. Evolution. The Modern Synthesis. London: G. Allen & Unwin ltd., 1942.
Lakoff George and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
Laland, Kevin N., Tobias Uller, Marcus W. Feldman, Kim Sterelny, Gerd B. Müller, Armin Moczek, Eva Jablonka and John Odling-Smee. “The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: Its Structure, Assumptions and Predictions.” Proc. R. Soc. B, 282 (2015): 1–14.
Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste. Philosophie zoologique. Union générale d’éditions: Paris, 1968.
Linné, Carl von, Systema Naturae. Ann Arbor, MI: Published for the Ohio Herpetological Society by Cushing-Malloy, 1963.
Mattick, John S. ”Rocking the Foundations of Molecular Genetics.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 109 (2012): 16400–16401.
Noble, Denis. “Evolution beyond neo-Darwinism a new conceptual framework.” The Journal of Experimental Biology 218 (2015): 7–13.
Noble, Denis. “A Biological theory of relativity: no privileged level of causation.” Journal of the Royal Society Interface Focus 2 (2012): 55–74.
Noble, Denis. “Physiology is Rocking the Foundations of Evolutionary Biology.” Experimental Physiology 98, no. 8 (2013): 1235–1243.
Noble, Denis. The Music of Life. Biology Beyond the Genome. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Pembrey, Marcus E., Lars Olov Bygren, Gunnar Kaati, Sören Edvinsson, Kate Northstone, Michael Sjöström and Jean Golding. “Sex-Specific, Male-Line Transgenerational Responses In Humans.” European Journal of Human Genetics, 14, no. 2 (2006): 159–166.
Plato. “Apology.” in Plato: Complete Works, edited by. J. M. Cooper and D. S. Hutchinson. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 1997.
Plessner, Helmut. Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch: Einleitung in die philosophische Anthropologie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1981.
Rechavi, Oded, Gregory Minevish and Oliver Hobert. “Transgenerational inheritance of an acquired small RNA-based antiviral response in C. elegans.” Cell 147 (2011): 1248–1256.
Richardson, Sarah S. and Halam Stevens. Postgenomics: Perspectives on Biology after the Genome. Durham; London: Duke University Press, 2015.
Ricouer, Paul. “Narrative Identity.”. Translated by Marc M. Muldon. Philosophy Today 35, no. 1 (1991).
Shapiro, James A. Evolution: a View from the 21st century. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: FT Press, 2011.
Sun, Yong-Hua, Shang-Ping Chen, Ya-Ping Wang, Wei Hu, and Zuo-Yan Zhu,“Cytoplasmic Impact on Cross-Genus Cloned Fish Derived from Transgenic Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) Nuclei and Goldfish (Carassius auratus) Enucleated Eggs,” Biology of Reproduction 72 (2005): 510–515.
Weaver, Ian C.G. “Life at the Interface Between a Dynamic Environment and a Fixed Genome: Epigenetic Programming of Stress Responses by Maternal Behavior.” In Mammalian Brain Development, edited by Damir Janigro, New York: Springer, 2009.
Williams, George Christopher. Adaptation and Natural Selection. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966.
Woese, Carl, & Nagel Goldenfeld. “How the Microbial World Saved Evolution from the Scylla of Molecular Biology and the Charybdis of the Modern Synthesis.” Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 73 (2009): 14–21.
Open Access Statement
This is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Submitting a text to Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture means that the author agrees with the general conditions of this license without losing his or her copyright to the text.