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The Two Cultures and Systems Biology: How Philosophy Starts Where Science Ends

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The gap between Science and the Humanities becomes tangible when they both attempt to address the same problem. One such case is relationship between Life and biological molecules. Traditionally, molecular biology has attempted to explain biological processes in terms of physicochemical characteristics of individual macromolecules. The new science of systems biology largely ignores the molecular characteristics of specific molecules and endeavors to analyze biological processes through the relationship between thousands of molecules. On the face of it, the difference between the molecular and the systems approach to biological research corresponds to the tension between the reductionist and the emergentist view in the philosophy of biology. However, a closer analysis reveals that experimental science and philosophy are concerned with different aspects of the problem and therefore search for different solutions. A main reason for this is the difference in their respective concepts of “question” and “answer”, which is essentially unbridgeable.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Mina & Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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