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In Context #10 (Fall, 2003)

Notes and Reviews

Words, Mechanisms, and Life
by Stephen L. Talbott

One of the most striking — and, at first glance, puzzling — features of the contemporary scientific landscape is the juxtaposition of mechanistic thinking with the once-forbidden but now flourishing vocabulary of information, meaning, and design. Why, one wonders, so do many mechanistically minded scientists not only tolerate the use of explanatory concepts relating to mind and language, but positively encourage it?

The Form of Evolution
by Stephen L. Talbott

A review of Jos Verhulst's Developmental Dynamics in Humans and Other Primates: Discovering Evolutionary Principles through Comparative Morphology. Verhulst startlingly argues that "the human form is present in animal evolution from the outset."

Assessing a Pig's Life
by Heather Thoma

Can we say anything objective about the quality of an animal's life? Does it matter to a chicken whether it is raised in the open where it can peck and scratch, or is instead raised in a cage barely large enough for it to turn around in? Focusing on pigs, Françoise Wemelsfelder has developed a unique research method in an attempt to answer the question about qualities and objectivity.

Feature Articles

The Giraffe's Short Neck
by Craig Holdrege

When you look at the giraffe in its organic unity, you find that the neck is one expression of a tendency that governs the entire body. In fact, in some respects, the neck is relatively short! In this article Craig not only sketches a picture of the giraffe, but looks at the many misdirected attempts to offer evolutionary "explanations" of the giraffe's neck.

Qualities
by Stephen L. Talbott

There are two ways of looking at the world: one is analytic, tending toward the quantitative and logical; the other requires the recognition of wholes through the qualities that permeate them. Each of these approaches depends on the other. If there is no escaping analysis in science, neither is there any escaping of qualities.

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