The list author says: "The biological sciences are undergoing rapid, exciting change despite the staleness of the public evolutionary debates. Philosophers are now joining the discussion as the issues push all prior envelopes. This list hopes to offer some of the best works in some of those hot areas of change such as: systems biology, origin of life theory, economic and synergistic aspects of ecosystems, symbiogenesis, emergence, evo-devo theory. Also recommended are any of the works from the Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology from MIT Press or from the Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology from Cambridge U P."
"Shows how the steps from geochemical energization of the early earth to the first cells are being filled in with astounding detail - possibly wrong but conceptually and experimentally plausible all along. The Egel summary essay is a spectacular book itself. Added 2012."
"Soars clearly and boldly out beyond the genes-are-everything view and beyond evolution as only a destructive principle to pull together diverse research towards principles of biological order creation, i.e. emergences whether symbiotic/associative, physiological, developmental, behavioral. Liberating, impressive, and thorough. Reads easily."
"Radical eco-evo-devo? The authors are palpably excited by their phenotype-first focus which stems in part from their chosen species of study – red knots, a migratory shorebird that forms the "empirical backbone" of the book. But their astonishment at the variability of phenotypes leads across large seas of literature. Delightful and expansive. Added 2012"
"A masterful summary of two lifelong researchers who make the properties of the elements center stage to explain evolution rather by species or genes. Lots of chemistry but very readable and compelling arguments including support for the progressive view of evolution. See my review of the book. Added 2010"
"Author is tackling the biggest questions in biology at the interface of the founding principles of science and of current theory. Much clearer than his previous book. He actually builds the basic principles of a new paradigm, provides some great insights, but still is a writer who is much more a thinker than a writer."
"Does a thorough yet concise job on an important subject. The depth is there over plants, animals, molecules, ecosystems and mind. And it frames the breadth of the issue with an array of its potential theoretical consequences."
"Finally, a good follow-up to Smith & Szathmary's "The Origins of Life" (see on this list) with a collection that focuses on the evolutionary major transitions from the large-scale patterns in life's history to the details of possible transition mechanisms. Great collection that opens up the subject."
"Origin of life, refined treatment of thermodynamics – very impressive. Works out the constraints/asymmetries lost (regular entropy-production) and gained (interfering downhill reactions) and resulting reciprocal scaffolding of these constraints. Longish, reaching for it all, and wide ranging. The well-reasoned book seems intended to be benchmark on the subject similar to his language book."
"Explores the important issue of determinate or indeterminate growth across the spectrum of biology including a special focus on fungi. This frames the issue of what is an "individual" in a novel light."
"Evo devo done in historical and philosophical perspective. Beautifully written (or it could be the Italian translator). Really pulls the issues from both the evo and the devo sides together in a way that focuses on some classic, difficult questions."
"Allen's (co-author's) work in setting up foundations for ecology is impressive. This one is short, insightful. See also his Toward a Unified Ecology. Simple and profound to a range of ignored questions."
"Not my favorite, but it belongs on this list because it represents a strand in the re-weaving of the biological synthesis. Some of the essays and ideas are provocative as well as clear. It seems to offer a comprehensive picture of the biosemiotic position."
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Biological Emergences: Evolution by Natural Experiment (Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology)