Download Metaphors in multilevel concepts of genetics

Survey
yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Pharmacogenomics wikipedia, lookup

Genetic code wikipedia, lookup

Artificial gene synthesis wikipedia, lookup

X-inactivation wikipedia, lookup

Genome (book) wikipedia, lookup

Microevolution wikipedia, lookup

Designer baby wikipedia, lookup

Gene expression programming wikipedia, lookup

Quantitative trait locus wikipedia, lookup

Gene wikipedia, lookup

Nutriepigenomics wikipedia, lookup

Public health genomics wikipedia, lookup

Site-specific recombinase technology wikipedia, lookup

Population genetics wikipedia, lookup

History of genetic engineering wikipedia, lookup

Medical genetics wikipedia, lookup

Genetic engineering wikipedia, lookup

Human genetic variation wikipedia, lookup

Biology and consumer behaviour wikipedia, lookup

Behavioural genetics wikipedia, lookup

Heritability of IQ wikipedia, lookup

Genome evolution wikipedia, lookup

Genetic testing wikipedia, lookup

Genetic drift wikipedia, lookup

Polymorphism (biology) wikipedia, lookup

Vectors in gene therapy wikipedia, lookup

Genomics wikipedia, lookup

Gene therapy wikipedia, lookup

Twin study wikipedia, lookup

Synthetic biology wikipedia, lookup

Genetic engineering in science fiction wikipedia, lookup

Transcript
THE COMMENT
This text was sent to the Org.Comittee of the Conference RAAM IV (About metaphors in
science and culture) that took place in the University of Manouba (Tunis) at Apri 4-7, 2001. This
text was accepted and highly evaluated: the highest grant was proposed to attend at this
Conference ($300, B&B, hostage, culture programs). However, it was impossible here to obtain
any grant for the round-trip tickets. Moreover, some crucial temporal home problems arose.
This text, however, does correspond to the oral report already made by the author at the 7th
IASS/AIS International Congress "Sign Processes in Complex Systems" at Oct. 1999 in Dresden
(Germany). That report was named "Genetics as developing hypertexts: sets of metaphors in
multilevel cognitive models", and was followed by 3 slides (see below). It was written about it to
the Organizer of the RAAM IV, Prof. Zouhair Maalej, and didn't switch the decision of the
Tunisian Org. Comittee to accept this work. While not being at the RAAM IV Conference, the
author sent there the full article with that 3 pictures, and wrote to them that it can be published
soon at the Dresdener Materials.
The full text of that article was sent there, and to Dresden, and to Prof. Jesper Hoffmeyer,
according to their requests.
Alexander E. Sedov (Russia)
Metaphors in multilevel concepts of genetics: quantitative and structural
analysis reveals both influences of other sciences and genetical hidden
knowledge.
Most fundamental genetic concepts contain metaphorical terms and reasonings, since they
involve the words introduced from other sciences and practices. Now, numerous multilevel
hypotheses for each biological meta-phenomenon - gene expression, embryogenesis, aging,
cancer malignization, evolution, ecological succession, etc. - must be compared simultaneously.
Metaphors, as their key points necessary for precognition, are discussed according to modern
informational and semiotic views.
In modern genetic glossary containing approximately 5000 terms, the 859 metaphorical ones
were found. Their three-dimensional classification according to their ad hoc attributes - 10 outer
sciences donated the words, 9 genetic structural levels, and their emergence dates - reveals the
overall semantic paradox in genetics. Populations, families and stocks, individuals, i.e. selfbehaving systems, since 1940-50s are metaphorized so far as the manageable objects, mostly by
denotations accepted from physics. As to the words in terms for the DNA fragments, they sources
shifted from cybernetic and linguistic words (that predominated since 1960s), to those coming
mostly from interorganism biology and humanitarian thought (since 1970s). So, various
nucleotide sequences that are studied by strict methods derived from physics, chemistry, and
computer science, paradoxally are described as self-managing, quasi-living systems with their
own will. Hence, further "holistic" influences of various supra-organism sciences onto genomics
are foreseen.
The expanded metaphorical reasonings act as conceptual key points in most outstanding
monographs of genomics. Their "physicalizations"/ "animizations" show which structural levels
are perceived by different authors as the leaded/leading ones for multilevel processes discussed.
In 10 books, this analysis already revealed some general genetic phenomena omitted even by
their authors, as well as their hidden presuppositions that contradict to their concepts evidently
proposed.
As revealing the crucial concepts, this approach can deepen the genetic knowledge and thought
themselves, while fitting them for linguistics, cognitive psychology, computer simulations of
genetic processes themselves and of their conceptualizations.
Dear colleagues! You surely know the case studies on scientific metaphors made
by M.Black, D.Haraway, A.Wilden, J.Lakoff & M.Johnson, E.MacCormac, E.Fox
Keller. But now, I'll show you my own quantitative and structural approach to the
set of metaphors in genetics, along with its first results. I still couldn't find any
analogs yet published.
Firstly, let's use the term "metaphor" in its classical Aristothelian sense - as the
cognitive structure that contains a part (or several parts) introduced from another
cognitive area or areas, i.e. sciences or practices. Sensu lato, both visual and
verbal metaphors do exist, both in arts and in sciences. These are the collage-like
visual images (such as many paintings of J.Bosch, P.Breugel, R.Magritte,
M.Shagall, S.Dali etc.). In natural sciences aimed to reveal the real structures and
processes, including biology, such collages also are used, but carefully and
therefore relatively rarely. For instance, such is the biomorphic or even
anthropomorphic representation in the best American manual in molecular cell
biology (Alberts et al., 1989) - several enzymes were painted as muscular bodies
that press each other to open the safe cooperatively. Other examples are the
pictures of living beings inside various graphs (phylogenetical trees, trophical
sets), the systems of organs that can be seen inside the living bodies pictured as
the transparent ones, the multiscale pictures, etc..
Metaphors sensu stricto exist in verbal texts, including the strictly scientific
ones. Each of them contains one or more lexical units that were borrowed from
outside, from the lexicons of initially different areas of knowledge and practice.
It's shown by the above-named authors that they are the necessary tools for
cognition.
Among all the fields of knowledge and practice, biology uses the broadest
repertoire of forms of data representation, including various visual images,
formulas, and words created in other sciences. Their assimilation is caused both by
the multilevel and multiaspect complexity of biosystems and by the invisibleness
of many of their structures and functions. Often it requires their modelling before, and sometimes even in spite of, their seeing. In such models, each single
introduced word acts as the filename in hypertext - for "click to display" from
outside the appropriate block of knowledge, both images and texts. Maybe the
future neurobiology, along with the computer science, will show us how it occurs
physically - in the intact creative brain.
At present, each of general biological meta-phenomena, such as gene expression,
embryogenesis, aging, carcinogenesis, evolution, ecological succession, etc.,
ivolves numerous multilevel hypothetical models, and their number encreasingly
grows. (For example, only for aging more than 500 independent theories already
exist.). Concerning any of these events, which structural and/or functional levels,
and their interactions, determine it, and which ones only represent its
consequences? It's the meta-question of all these problems. As a rule, in such
hypothetic models the metaphors are used as the keypoints in the "white spots" for
precognition of new phenomena, as the new tools made of something already
known, taken from outside - from other cognitive areas already formed. So, the
genesis of each of these metaphors determines the implicite cognitive root of the
probable answer, i.e. of the hypothesis. For understanding what - and even why we really know or speculate about the appropriate biological phenomenon, we
must compare all its models in order to reveal their controversal or compatible
hypothetical blocks. And they consist mainly of metaphors.
When taken per se, these metaphors are undistinguishable from the poetical
ones: for instance, the images "the load of reminiscences" and "the running time"
resemble to the similar genetic terms "the genetic load" and "the jumping genes".
According to the information theory (even in the simplest C.Shannon models), if
some rare unexpected elements can be incorporated into some system without
conflicting with its internal laws, then they can drastically increase its
informational capability. Also grows the value of its information, interpreted by
the biophysist M.Volkenshtein as the "measure of its irredundancy"; the higher is
the "level of the reception" of information, the more it this value. So, the more
complicate is the conceptual structure, the more information can be brought into it
by the same metaphor. According to H.Quastler, the emergence of new
information means the remembering of an accidental choice. So, when the scientist
creates some metaphor, he shaffles many lexical units in his mind; and then twostage impressions may occur: in his own texts, and then probably in his colleagues'
citations, and/or as the input into the professional terminology.
In the organisms, their main informational structures can also be interpreted as
the "embodied metaphors" that have emerged long before appeared the mankind
with its languages, pictures, and written texts. For example, as a rule, the gene
that's crucial for ontogenesis has several different senses, and therefore "binds into
the single bouquet" various processes of morphogenesis, cell divisions and
differentiations. Such are most of homeotic genes, oncogenes, membrane receptor
genes. The other example, at the intercellular strucutural level, are so-called
gnostic neurons in the brain: each of them binds several different neuronal sets - to
form the associative field and superset, and thus to transform the simplest
modalities into the images and even into the cognitive models.
Now, let's concentrate only on the metaphors sensu stricto, i.e. on verbal
metaphors, and only in genetics - as the exact science that analyzes the very bases
of almost all above-named biological phenomena. Most fundamental genetic
concepts contain metaphorical terms and reasonings. Each term was invented by
its concrete author, but then was accepted by professional community as a usable
strict logical unit; usually it ranges from 1 composed word to a combination up to
4 words. As to each reasoning, it still belongs only to its concrete author, ranging
from a part of a phrase up to a system of phrases and paragraphs in various parts of
one or more of his publication(s).
Then, let's imagine any genetic concept as the oriented graph, with the biological
structures as its nodes, and their interrelations, including the processes, as its arcs.
So, any structure of any level can either be observed as the cluster of its elements
or mentally reduced to the single node. Let's see how different metaphors work
here. Let's start with the terms, "extracting" and classifying them in all the levels.
The almost modern genetic glossary (Rieger, Michaelis and Green, 1991)
contains approximately 5000 terms; the 859 of them are the metaphorical ones,
and for 677 of them the dates and authors are named. This graph (see the Graph
1) shows the total increase of genetic metaphors in our century, as revealed only
by the dated ones. The final fall seems to reflect the retardation of this glossary,
when compared to the modern language of genetic publications. But before,
during and after both world wars, you can see the pits. The similar pits at those
time intervals can be seen in many other scientometric graphs, which represent the
total amounts of doctor dissertations in physics in USA, the publications in
physics, astrophysics, mathematics, radiational chemistry, etc.. I couldn't find
anywhere any interpretations of these phenomena. They reflect the total decrease
of scientifical creativity that embraces the years that preceeded the wars. Maybe
the scientific community had a presentiment of these troubles, resembling
something like a complex super-organism?..
Then, let's distribute all the 859 metaphors along two dimensions according to
their ad hoc attributes: 10 outer sciences and practices that were sources of words,
and 9 genetic structural levels. (see the Table 1). The fat numbers show the most
abundant groups. Let's concentrate only on them, take only the dated ones from
these cells, and combine the approaches of both the table and the graph already
shown: we'll convert the columns of that table into the lines of this one, while the
time intervals of the emergence now will be the columns. Thus obtained, threedimensional classification of metaphorical terms of the most abundant groups (see
the Table 2) reveals the overall semantic paradox in genetics. Populations, stocks,
individuals, i.e. self-behaving subjects, are metaphorized since 1940-50s and up
today as the manageable ones, mostly by denotations accepted from physics:
("genetic load", "weight of a character", "gene flow", "selection pressure", etc.).
As to the DNA semantophores that were determined by strict research methods
derived from physics, chemistry, and computer science, since 1970s the sources
for their metaphorization have shifted, from the cybernetic and linguistic
denotations mostly accepted at 1960s, to those originated from inter-organism
biology and humanitarian thought, that present these macromolecular objects as
self-managing, quasi-living systems with their own will ("strand
migration","jumping genes", "genome imprinting", "selfish DNA", "orphon", etc.).
Hence, further "holistic" influences of various supra-organism sciences onto
genomics can be supposed. Now, I'm still the only expert that revealed all of this.
However, anyone of you and/or your colleagues can easily check my results:
independently, the similar tables with the initially empty cells would be filled by
the numbers of metaphors counted from either the same or any other glossary.
Now, let's turn to few case studies of expanded metaphorical reasonings in
genomics. In the outstanding monographs, they act as the conceptual keypoints.
We'll concentrate here only on their extremal types already named, i.e. on
"physicalizations" and "animizations" that represent the pairwise interactions
between the structural levels. When some author discussed some multilevel
process, they show which level(s) he implicitly perceived, respectively, either as
the "exogenously led" (from outside), or as the "endogenously leading" one(s). So,
this approach somewhat resembles the psychoanalysis of written texts. Let's see
some examples and results.
When comparing the monographs of V.Ratner and his disciples, it can be seen
that 30 years ago their metaphorical lexicon was full of physical and cybernetical
metaphors, but nowadays it's added and filled up mostly by the biologisms. Inside
any of their last books, all these types of metaphors coexist and interact.
In the R.Khesin's monography "The instability of the genome" published at
1982, more than 3500 experimental works are analyzed. The script of 42
metaphorical reasonings extracted from this book resembles a fairy tale full of
animizations of the genetic elements, i.e.of the DNA fragments. Then, these
metaphors reveal some peculiar genetic meta-phenomena. For one of them, wellknown earlier, the term "position effect" was proposed by A.Sturtevant at 1925. It
means the "holistic" influence of a part of a chromosome on the activity of the
gene(s) it contains. However, on the contrary, the gene-animizing metaphors in
this book can be used as markers of the descriptions of the opposite "reductionist"
events in different cells and organisms already studied. In various cases and
objects, the single transposition of one of genetic elements causes the drastical
increase of another various transpositions, induces the cascades of chromosomal
rearrangements, etc.. Such a phenomena still have no any common term, but yet
they must be termed. And, are there any other systems, where the transfer of some
single element inside them could cause their complex rearrangements?
Such analysis can also reveal the authors' "hidden knowledge" (by M.Polanyi),
i.e. their implicit presuppositions that contradict to their own whole concepts
explicitly proposed. For instance, the main idea of the A.Lima-de-Faria's book
"Evolution without selection" published at 1988 is the statement that genes,
chromosomes, and other biological objects can be completely understood by
means of physics and chemistry. The author illustrates it by a lot of fotographs,
where various biosystems resemble various physical objects. But in many places
of the same book, its metaphors mark and reveal the author's hidden opposite idea,
i.e. his animism. So, the chapter 17 is named "How the gene, the chromosome and
the cell counteract the environment and death.". Let's see only one of many
examples: the chromosome "...can develop its own organization" and "possesses
an arsenal of devices that allow it to follow its own rules..." (p.212), "conserves,
innovates and explores with its own tools." (p.219), and so on. All this chapter
full of animizations is dedicated straightly to the author's research area, i.e. to
cytogenetics: he was the one who showed the logical architectonics of
chromosome as a whole. Moreover, very few and weak animizations are used for
the elementary particles. Concerning the levels, this verbalized behavior of
genetical systems is "descended top-down" but not "raised bottom-up", thus it's
restricted by the life phenomena. So, Lima-de-Faria is not a radical physicalist,
like he seems to think of himself, but a hidden animist. And these oppositions
coexist, as it can be revealed inside the single rational text!..
I hope that these few examples were convinced you that this approach, still used
only for a dozen of books now, needs to be developed. Initially, it even doesn't
need the deep professional genetical knowledge: the later one would be improved
during such a research. And, as revealing the crucial concepts - concerning both
the real genetic phenomena and the thought of geneticists - it can deepen their
understanding, while fitting them for models that could be made by means of
linguistics, cognitive psychology, computer simulations. Such an approach to the
professional texts may be useful not only in genetics, but also in other fields based
on investigations and/or on inventions of complex multilevel systems.
Graph 1. Appearance of new metaphorical terms in genetics during ХХ
century (by five-years timespans).
О - the number of metaphorical terms that appeared during
the 5-year period up to the year marked;
The same graph after the corrective rectification performed using
the "gliding mean" method:
- starting from the 3 first points;
(small triangles) - just the same in the "contra-phase", after the step per 1
point to the right side. 
Table 1. Quantities and properties of metaphorical terms in
genetics: distribution by the cognitive areas of the lexical
borrowings (columns) and by structural levels of genetic systems
(lines).
Metaphorical terms that can be
attributed to more than one cell were
placed into each of these cells.
The areas of
lexical
borrowings
Genetic
Structural
levels
Population
Family, strain
Organism
(phenotype)
Genom
Chromosome
Plasmid,
small genom
Non-allelic
gene set.
Gene as a whole
Genetic text,
i.e. sequence
Sum by one
given column,
i.e. by the field
of lexical
borrowings.
C
h
e
m
i
s
t
r
y
P
h
y
s
i
c
s
“classical"
one
62
9
“subatomic
“ one
2
1
G
e
o
g
r
a
p
h
y
C
y
b
e
r
n
e
t
i
c
s
L
i
n
g
u
i
s
t
i
c
s
E
v
e
r
y
d
a
y
B
i
o
l
o
g
y
l
i
f
e
A
n
t
h
r
o
p
o
l
o
g
y
p S
s o
y c
c i
h o
o l
l o
o g
g y
y
M
y
s
t
i
c
s
Sum by
one given
line, i.e. by
one
structural
level
of genetic
systems.
&
1
1
1
2
2
5
2
6
3
8
8
7
8
4
6
1
1
96
3
41
5
19
-
1
7
2
1
5
-
2
8
-
1
5
-
2
4
-
11
48
7
10
32
9
6
16
3
2
-
2
1
1
43
145
22
8
6
5
3
11
1
10
8
8
2
-
62
18
20
6
13
3
5
2
6
23
44
4
53
17
75
26
55
16
44
4
11
2
119
328
141
38
21
24
91
66
185
155
105
26
7
859
Table 2. Dynamics of formation of the most abundant groups of dated metaphorical terms in genetics
The relatively big amounts are marked by (*).
Genetical structural
Fields of lexical
borrowings
ХIХ c.
levels
Population
Chromosome
Gene as a whole
Genetical text, i.a.
nucleotide means
aminoacid sequence
Chronological intervals in dates (decades of years)
biolol.+anthropol.+sociol.
physics - "classical"
anthropology
biology
everyday life
physics - "classical"
anthropology
biology
everyday life
cybernetics
physics - "classical"
anthropology
1
2
5
1
-
19011910
2
1
1
3
1
2
-
19111920
1
1
1
1
1
-
19211930
1
4
1
5
1
1
2
1
-
19311940
1
1
4
6*
2
4
2
1
3
1
19411950
1
7*
1
3
3
1
1
-
19511960
6*
11*
1
2
2
3
1
2
3
2
3
19611970
1
4
1
3
2
2
6*
3
2
7*
3
8*
19711980
4
2
2
4
4
4
10*
6
2
16*
19811990
1
2
2
4
6
4
2
2
1
7
biology
-
-
-
-
-
-
2
7*
22*
3
everyday life
linguistics
cybernetics
physics - "classical"
-
-
-
1
1
-
1
-
-
2
2
4
1
7*
14*
14*
3
15*
3
8*
3
10*
1
5
-