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“The epistemological problem of cryptic genetic variability in Waddington’s canalization of development.” - Ms Flavia Fabris (La Sapienza University of Rome/University of Exeter)

Egenis Seminar

The concept of canalization, coined by Waddington to illustrate the complex functioning of all developmental processes, is now subject to some neopreformationist interpretations centred on the role of the notion of cryptic genetic variability. Waddington attributed to this concept the evidence of the genetic assimilation of the acquired characters, claiming that all organisms developed specific abilities to influence their evolutionary pathways through the regulation of buffering mechanisms of genetic variability. However, the contemporary approach of biotechnology has misrepresented the original content of the concept of cryptic genetic variability, transforming its sense to a mere genetic informationism. Consequently, the heuristics value of the concept of canalization has been reduced to a static representation of an “a-contextual developmental system”, closed with respect to its environment. The following presentation will analyze the contemporary assumptions of canalization in Molecular Biology researches with the aim to recover the original whiteheadian meaning of the concept as an open process of interaction between the organism and its environment.

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Byrne House