Evolution in two parts: as seen in a new fram ework for biology

Theor Biol Forum. 2022 Jan 1;115(1-2):71-83. doi: 10.19272/202211402005.


The case has been made that the-gene-centric approach to biology, which has prevailed over the past ~100 years, should be replaced by a fundamental framework based on the cell being a far from equilibrium complex dissipative system, regulated and governed by its phenotype (1, 2), the metaphor for which is a brain. This independent attractor (IA) model is a radical departure from the conventional view based on Wilhelm Johannsen's genotype-conception which has prevailed since 1910. In this prevailing paradigm the gene and the genotype are fundamental in accounting for inheritance, evolution, development, and morphogenesis: the phenotype, upon which natural selection is deemed to act, plays little or no role in these crucial aspects of biology. Here I discuss how the process of evolution might be viewed under the IA model. Based on empirical evidence, evolution can be seen as a two-part process, one part based on thermodynamics and resulting in increased resilience to perturbation of the cellular phenotype (conditioning), and the other part, based on agency exhibited by the evolving organisms. A crucial open question is: should we view the realisation of the phenotype as a matter for biochemistry, or physics.

Keywords: Causation; Complex Dissipative System; Emergence; Independent Attractor (IA) Model; Phenotype as a Brain: Cellular Intelligence; Protein Interactome.

MeSH terms

  • Biochemistry*
  • Biology
  • Genotype
  • Phenotype
  • Selection, Genetic*