Biological Theory

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 127–130 | Cite as

Mechanistic Development

Natalie K. Gordon and Richard Gordon: Embryogenesis Explained; World Scientific, Singapore, 2016, 784 pp., £164 hbk, ISBN 978-981-4350-48-8
  • Jean-Jacques KupiecEmail author
Book Review

Embryogenesis Explainedis a fascinating book. Its authors, Natalie and Richard Gordon, expound a theory of embryogenesis based on the mechanical properties of the cell cytoskeleton. This theory is associated with epistemological thought developed in an entire chapter suggesting a holistic conception of life and in a series of remarks dispersed throughout the book. In the preface, the authors stipulate the three conditions that, in their view, must be met by a developmental theory. First, universality; as they write, “For any theory of embryogenesis to be the ‘right’ theory, it must have certain key elements. First and foremost, the right theory must be universal” (p. vii). Second, “it must be traceable in some form back in time to before embryogenesis was required” (p. xi). The reason for that is that “nature is conservative.” It uses only mechanisms that have been successfully tested. Thus embryogenesis must rely on mechanisms that were already, at least partially, present in...


Down Syndrome Nuclear Organization Morphogen Gradient Differentiation Wave Holistic Conception 
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Copyright information

© Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre CavaillèsÉcole Normale SupérieureParisFrance

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