Science & Education

, Volume 28, Issue 1–2, pp 183–187 | Cite as

A Brief History of the Gene Concept

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Staffan Müller-Willie (2017) The Gene: from Genetics to Postgenomics. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN-13: 978-0-226-51000-2. 147 pages, price: $25.00/£19.00 (paperback)
  • Veronica S. FlodinEmail author
Book Review


Much ink has been spilled about the gene concept, do we really need more? After reading this book, by Rheinberger and Müller-Willie, the answer is “yes.” This book covers all you need to know about the gene concept in a very precise and concise way. Their aim is to help us to better understand the changing role of the gene concept by tracking its history. The authors raise the problem of when to stop and look at the “history” of the gene concept considering the speed of scientific development. However, the time seems ripe, since the shift into postgenomics does not yet seem to include any paradigmatic changes concerning the gene.

The book starts with a quote by Nietzsche about what is possible to define, namely things without history. Therefore, a quick conclusion is that the authors mean that the gene concept defies a definition because it has a long history of use. The authors also argue that the concept has never had a precise definition during the history of science....


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Conflict of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Science EducationStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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