Genetics and the Manipulation of Life

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Genetics and the Manipulation of Life: The Forgotten Factor of Context

Here is a provocative work that challenges our common assumptions about nature and science. It is a book for all those who want to question and more deeply understand the biological revolution of the late twentieth century. Clearly written, well-illustrated, and without unnecessary technical jargon, Holdrege employs fascinating examples to show how living organisms develop and exist within the context of their environment. He asserts that genes alone cannot determine organisms because their effects are always qualified by the contexts within which the organisms live.

With a unique and probing perspective on contemporary science, Holdrege shows how scientific theory and practice inevitably fuse to produce the systems that will ultimately create our future, and he questions our understanding of the organisms we manipulate through genetic engineering and the consequences of such manipulation. In an age of expanding biotechnology and an ever greater capacity to reshape life on Earth, this book offers a profound and complex vision of nature. Holdrege gives us a means for establishing a more conscious and responsible connection to the world around us.

This book offers a unique perspective on genetics and genetic engineering that cannot be found elsewhere. David Suzuki, co-author of Genethics, said that “all budding geneticists, indeed, all biologists, ought to read this important work.” Wes Jackson, President of the Land Institute, wrote, “I am tempted to shout that this may be the most essential new book of our time.” -And Lynn Margulis, co-developer of the Gaia hypothesis, remarked that the author cuts “through hype and nonsense to the crux of the matter — that our fundamental humanity develops in context.”

“With a wealth of interesting examples he shows how genes (DNA) alone cannot ‘determine’ traits, much less organisms, because their effects are always qualified by the contexts within which the organisms live. He thus offers an antidote to the current mechanistic thinking about genes as causes of health, disease, and behaviors. But the special contribution of this book is that it details, simply, and with fascinating examples, how scientists’ ways of conceptualizing organisms and manipulating them and their parts are at the heart of the formulations they offer about how organisms and their molecules function. The reader can thus observe how scientific observations and their interpretations fuse in the creation of systems of scientific explanation.” -Ruth Hubbard, Professor Emerita of Biology, Harvard University, and author of Exploding the Gene Myth

About the Author

Craig Holdrege was born in Boise, Idaho, and grew up in Boulder, Colorado. He majored in philosophy at Beloit college, where his interest in biology also began. He then went on to study biology and do research at the scientific research laboratory at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. He began his career as a high school life science teacher at the Waldorf school in Wuppertal, Germany, where he taught for twelve years. For the past several years he has been teaching life sciences at the Hawthorn Valley School in Ghent, New York.

Additional information

Weight 19 oz
Dimensions 5.5 × 0.5 × 8.5 in




September 1996






Lindisfarne Books

Available Resources

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Borrow it from: Rudolf Steiner Library
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