Biology of Wonder: Aliveness, Feeling and the Metamorphosis of Science
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The disconnection between humans and nature is perhaps one of the most fundamental problems faced by our species today. The schism between us and the natural world is arguably the root cause of most of the environmental catastrophes unraveling around us. However, until we come to terms with the depths of our alienation, we will continue to fail to understand that what happens to nature also happens to us.
In The Biology of Wonder author Andreas Weber proposes a new approach to the biological sciences that puts the human back in nature. He argues that feelings and emotions, far from being superfluous to the study of organisms, are the very foundation of life. From this basic premise flows the development of a "poetic ecology" which intimately connects our species to everything that surrounds us—showing that subjectivity and imagination are prerequisits of biological existence.
The Biology of Wonder demonstrates that there is no separation between us and the world we inhabit, and in so doing it validates the essence of our deep experience. By reconciling science with meaning, expression and emotion, this landmark work brings us to a crucial understanding of our place in the rich and diverse framework of life-a revolution for biology as groundbreaking as the theory of relativity for physics.
Dr. Andreas Weber is a German academic, scholar and author. He is a leader in the emerging fields of "biopoetics" and "biosemiotics," and his work has been translated into several languages and published around the globe.
principle and in the test tube are able to thrive alone. In order to function as a whole organism, they need to tune their behaviors in to one another. In doing this, our cells do not obey an overarching control center. The brain does not guide the coherence of the body but rather is spread out over the whole body by means of the finest ramifications of its nerves and the liquid messenger substances which float through all body tissues. In many respects, therefore, organisms can be understood as
sampling methods and simply trust what they see, smell and hear. In the world of living beings the beautiful system most often is the diverse system, and the diverse system is the good system because life imagines itself as the greatest possible plenitude. Still, the beauty of natural systems never appears in the radiant triumph of victory. Ecological stability and the beauty of life are built on the dialectics of birth and death. It is fragile to the core. Its beauty, to which we are free to
mainstream biology’s obsession with explaining all qualities of organisms by atomic causal forces alone. In this respect, a poetic ecology is less materialistic than the mainstream biological thinking it wishes to correct. But at the same time it pays tribute to the body in its own right, in its role as the absolute ground zero for feeling, which is not possible outside the body. Hence, in a strange way, poetic ecology is more materialistic than many of the dogmas of contemporary biology, which
is in the ocean as well as inside them. They sing to themselves. And contrary to the prejudice of mainstream biology, which is so fixated with the struggle for survival, for many hours a day whales are not occupied with feeding. They have free time and they use it to sing. They repeat their unearthly songs in endless modulation. Sound can be a sign that purposeful existence is being suspended. Elephants roaming in the bush groan and rumble out of sheer well-being, doing nothing, and certainly
vibration. The touch of sound seizes us more strongly than does the image, which is always seen with some distance in front of us. Neurologists know that people who can hear but not see feel as if they are thrown into the midst of a roaring reality; on the other hand, deaf people, even when they can see perfectly, feel profoundly separate from the world, as if they are condemned to a life behind a wall of glass. Nowhere does the inner experience of organisms reveal itself more clearly than in