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Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the…

Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology (original 1970; edition 1972)

by Jacques Monod, Austryn Wainhouse (Translator)

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Change and necessity is a statement of Darwinian natural selection as a process driven by chance necessity, devoid of purpose or intent.
Title:Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology
Authors:Jacques Monod
Other authors:Austryn Wainhouse (Translator)
Info:Vintage Books (1972), Paperback, 199 pages
Collections:Your library

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Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology by Jacques Monod (1970)

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I seldom have chosen books as Picks for the Journal of Chemical Education that are not relatively recent (although there are precedents for this), but the current controversy over "Intelligent" Design brought vividly to mind the 1971 book, "Chance and Necessity" by Nobelist Jacques Monod. While I appreciate the arguments for evolution by people like Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins, Monod's reasoning appeals to me even more as a molecular scientist. I read "Chance and Necessity" when it was first published those thirty-some years ago, and it is a testament to the power of this book that it has stuck with me so strongly for so long. Monod looks at the biomolecular basis of genetics in search of evidence for any non-random processes, which would be required if some design were imposed on the processes of selection. He finds none. In fact, he can positively rule out the existence of such mechanisms. Modern biology tells us, according to Monod, "...it follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution; this central concept of modern biology is no longer one among other possible or even conceivable hypotheses. It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one that squares with observed and tested fact. And nothing warrants the supposition - or the hope - that on this score our position is likely ever to be revised. His conclusions are precisely those that are an anathema to traditional believers. In his words, "The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he has emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose." Find a copy this important book from your library or locate a used one. ( )
  hcubic | Aug 2, 2015 |
'Chance alone is at the source of every innovaton, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, only chance, absolute but blind liberty is at the root of the prodigious edifice that is evolution... It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one that squares with observed and tested fact.' ( )
  Ramirez | Apr 23, 2009 |
Review and philosophical implications of modern molecular biology by one of its most famous practitioners. The question of the title is 'Chance and necessity?' He comes down heavy on the side of chance. But do we really (as scientists) have to come down on the side of chance if we want to avoid the pitfalls of 'design'? I think the thinking in this arena is beginning to change - life may be necessity after all. If you are interested in this question, this book is a great place to start. Not easy reading, but very deep. ( )
  yapete | Jun 1, 2008 |
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"Il caso e la necessità" è il libro che ha suscitato nel mondo scientifico e filosofico il più vasto dibattito dopo "L'origine della specie" di Darwin. Tradotto in quindici lingue, è dedicato non solo ai biologi, ma anche a tutti coloro che si interessano alle prospettive più originali della cultura moderna e ai rapporti delle scienze della vita con la filosofia. Se l'ambizione ultima della scienza consiste nel chiarire la relazione tra l'uomo e l'universo, la biologia tenta di raggiungere il nocciolo delle questioni relative alla natura umana. Jacques Monod, premio Nobel per la medicina nel 1965, coglie della biologia, quei temi che ritiene possano maggiormente influire sulla cultura moderna. La teoria molecolare del codice, intendendo con essa non solo la nozione di struttura chimica del materiale genetico ereditario, ma anche tutti i meccanismi di espressione dell'informazione in essa contenuta, è presentata come teoria generale degli esseri viventi.Questi viventi sono "oggetti singolari" che si distinguono da tutti gli altri oggetti dell'universo in quanto sono dotati di invarianza, cioè della capacità di trasmettere ai posteri, adeguando le proprie prestazioni, il proprio contenuto di invarianza. Eppure gli esseri viventi si evolvono. L'evento iniziale, la mutazione, è per l'Autore un essere fortuito, un "caso"; una volta inscritto negli esseri viventi, viene replicato, tradotto fedelmente in milioni e miliardi di copie ed entra nel campo della selezione, della "necessità".
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