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Conceptual heterogeneity and the legacy of organicism: thoughts on the life organic

Essay review of Erik Peterson, The life organic: the theoretical biology club and the roots of epigenetics, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016, 328 pp., $45.00
  • Daniel S. BrooksEmail author
Review Essay

In Erik Peterson’s The Life Organic: The Theoretical Biology Club and the Roots of Epigenetics (TLO, hereafter), we are treated to the most comprehensive engagement of organicist thought from one source in the almost half century since Donna Haraway’s (1976) touchstone Crystals Fabrics, and Fields. The book is certainly a timely one. Indeed, organicism has experienced something of a minor renaissance in the first two decades of this millennium, with preceding works like Maurizio Esposito’s Romantic Biology (2015), and Daniel J. Nicholson’s and Richard Gawne’s collaborations (2014, 2015) spearheading a more thorough investigation of this nigh-forgotten but prescient and fecund period of biology’s history.

Peterson’s contribution to this literature stands out as a book-length documentary of the goings-on of the core members of the Cambridge University-based Theoretical Biology Club (TBC), whose numbers included, among others, such radical and colorful characters as Dorothy and Joseph...

Notes

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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