Losing My Wings

Why a Gothic Biology?

So why is the Gothic an important lens for thinking about recent biology? One thing that the history of science has taught is that how we look at a problem helps us to understand that problem in a specific way. It could be something as simple as the type of instrument one uses to make an observation; or, it could be the more more elaborate claim about how one's position in society and the assumptions they make informs their ideas about how the world works. We look at the world from where we conceptually, sensorily, historically, and physically stand. This, of course, doesn’t mean that our observations are limited by who we are and what we assume, but it does suggest that understanding comes through an interaction with the world, which allows us to form different assumptions in the process of enquiry. 
For instance, as we covered briefly on the first page of this path, some historians have supposed that science was mostly a product of Enlightenment thought. This view of science especially implies a few aspects of scientific practice which have become commonplace, such as the importance of clarity of thought, the distinct separation of subject and observer, and a view of history as the progressive illumination of the truth. I think these assumptions about scientific practice lead to misunderstandings when applied to biology, however. A good example is the coding problem in biology. Once it was ascertained that DNA could carry information from one generation of organisms to the next, scientists wanted to understand how this might occur.  One popular solution, was to see that the base pairs that comprise the variable sequence of DNA could be arranged to create a message. This message could then be transcribed (from one type of nucleic acid to another) and then translated (from nucleic acid to protein).  This is certainly the case, the sequence of some of nucleic acids do carry information and transcription and translation does occur. Recently, however, biologists have begun to ask if is this a sufficient model to explain the complex informational ecology required for procreation and development? It now appears the chemical architecture of the gene is important for when I gene is regulated, also the position of the gene on the chromosome and its adjoining sequences (see the section of the Bithorax complex). Might it be possible that this sleek modernist model of information transfer blinded researchers to other important and answerable problems? What type of emphases will thinking about biology as a gothic science supply?

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