This divergence between embryology and genetics appears to have occurred for legitimate scientific reasons, but also as “a struggle for power and authority.” These disciplinary differences coincided with the eventual sides taken in the Second World War. That genetics ultimately emerged as the hegemonic victor in science just as the U.S. emerged as the global hegemon after the war, is not merely coincidental.
One specific and particularly intriguing example of these differences in the content of the natural science of the 1800s due to social class and ideological inclination is the contrast in the description of natural selection by Alfred Russel Wallace with natural selection as described by Darwin.
These hopes for a better future via Lamarckian adaptations were predicated on alterations of current environments, which in turn required sweeping social and political changes. As such, Lamarckism became a fundamental aspect of many of the rationalist (i.e., secular) progressive reform movements of the mid-1800s...
Waddington’s diverse background, including his unorthodox politics, will be shown to have a significant influence in his ‘discovery’ of epigenetics, and also provides clues as to why epigenetics was as ignored it was until fairly recently.
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck has had as much an impact on the political history of the modern world as any biologist, perhaps save Darwin—but, notably, much of this impact is based on misunderstandings and misinterpretations of Lamarck’s actual theory of evolution.
While there are aspects of Lamarckism and contemporary epigenetics which do pertain to each other, there are substantial differences between them. Contemporary epigenetics is also not inconsistent with Darwinian natural selection, and is properly a subset of conventional genetics. Thus, the guilt-by-association intended by this association of epigenetics with Lamarckism is both misleading and not an accurate description of either.
Epigenetics and Public Policy: The Tangled Web of Science and Politics (April 2018). Read excerpts here. "This book comprehensively considers the political implications of the emerging science of epigenetics in specific policy domains, addressing the intersections of epigenetics with cancer, obesity, the environment, and the law. Author Shea Robison carefully navigates the messy history of genetics … Continue reading Epigenetics and Public Policy: The Tangled Web of Science and Politics
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) (The following is a summary of a talk presented at the Center for East Asian and Comparative Philosophy on January 11, 2016. Copies of the full-length (draft) paper and the accompanying PowerPoint presentation are available here) Per the guiding model of my project: I propose that the emerging science of epigenetics invokes an openness and an … Continue reading The Immanent Self: Epigenetics, Modern Liberalism and Spinoza
As a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for East Asian and Comparative Philosophy, with the Department of Public Policy at the City University of Hong Kong, I worked on a project called Eastern and Western Conceptions of Oneness, Virtue, and Human Happiness, From the project home page: A number of East Asian thinkers, as well … Continue reading Epigenetics and the Concept of Oneness
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) A forthcoming paper titled “Holocaust exposure induced intergenerational effects on FKBP5 methylation” by Rachel Yehuda and many others is sparking considerable debate about epigenetics, mostly—according to my Twitter feed, at least—as critiques of this paper. I do not have access to the Yehuda paper, and so I am unable to discuss the appropriateness … Continue reading Epigenetics and Adaptation: Ethics in Evolution