Re: Genes and Development Conference

Jonathan Clarke (
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 07:33:40 +1000

Brian D Harper wrote in part:

> OK, so one of the lofty goals (yet to be attained of course)
> of Webster, Goodwin and many others belonging to "that tradition
> in biology" is to develop a rational theory of form which would
> (among other things) explain homology in terms of fundamental
> theory, independent of history. My question then is, supposing
> for the moment that they are wildly successful, what effect would
> such a theory have upon the theory of common ancestry?

A tangential question I have often wondered about is this apparent desire of
many biologists to divorce their science from history. Is it because they
wish to emulate the physical and chemical sciences, which are ahistorical?
Is it because they are uncomfortable with the contingency history might
imply? Either way it seems strange to me as from a geological perspective
where history is (almost) everything and where species may outlive geological

Jon C