Turner, 2013: Biology’s Second Law. Homeostasi s, Purpose and Desire

I contacted him a while ago, he’s got an interesting book about termite behavior and organism development (The Tinkerer’s Accomplice). He said he knows about PCT, and is writing a new book about purposes in biology.Â


On Sun, Aug 16, 2015 at 7:15 AM, Warren Mansell csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

Someone going to tell him about PCT?

On 15 Aug 2015, at 21:32, MK (perceptualposts@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[From MK (2015.08.15.2230 CET)]

Here are two essays on homeostasis by the physiologist J. Scott

Turner. The first essay is an abstract of his upcoming book that will

likely be titled as the essay.

The two provided links in this post are temporary, so save local

copies of the files if you want to read them later.

Biology’s Second Law. Homeostasis, Purpose and Desire

In: Brian G Henning and Adam Scarfe (eds), Beyond Mechanism: New

Frontiers in Biology and Evolutionary Theory

2013, Lexington Books

"Modern biology has largely divorced itself from the idea that life is

a purposeful phenomenon. While we have learned much from this stance,

it has led evolutionary biology into a sterile intellectual

wilderness, in which Darwinism’s original goal—a coherrent theory of

biology—has proved elusive, if not impossible to attain. In thhis

essay, I argue that one of Darwin’s contemporaries—thee French

physiologist Claude Bernard—planted the seeds to do so in his core

concept of homeostasis. Bernard’s insight into the essential nature of

life stands on a par with biology’s “first law’’—evolution by natural

selection—and points to the possibility of a truly coherent thheory of

life and its evolution."

Temporary copy of the essay: http://pct.loopgain.com/jsturner2013.pdf

Homeostasis and the forgotten vitalist roots of adaptation

In: Charles Wolfe and Sebastian Normandin (eds), Vitalism and the

Scientific Image

2013, Springer Netherlands


Adaptation, supposedly so central to the Darwinian idea, is actually

steeped in the vitalist tradition of the 19th century. This

philosophy, known as “scientific” vitalism, animated all aspects of

biology, including physiology and evolution, was suppressed at the

beginning of the 20th century. This has led ever since to a fracturing

of biology. A reunification is possible if this scientifically

respectable form of vitalism can be recovered.


Through most of the twentieth century, biology’s image as a valid

science has been gauged by how closely it adheres to the norms of

“objectiveâ€? sciences like physics, chemistry and mathematics. Strains

of biological thought that depart from this norm are deemed

non-scientific. This presumes that life is fundamentally a physical,

chemical and thermodynamic phenomenon. While this approach has been

very fruitful, it is questionable that it can lead to a coherent

theory of biology. This is particularly the case for certain obvious

(self-evident?) properties of living systems, including

purposefulness, design, and intentionality. The tendency has been to

treat these phenomena as illusions, as in numerous invocations of

“apparentâ€? design, “apparentâ€? purposefulness and “apparentâ€?

intentionality. I argue in this essay that these phenomena are far

from illusory, but are in fact quite real. I further argue that a

coherent theory of biology must account for purpose, design and

intentionality, and I offer one possible way to do so through the

fundamental phenomenon of homeostasis.

Temporary copy of the essay: http://pct.loopgain.com/jsturner2013v.pdf