and qualitative level can one find many general strict invariants in biology. Moreover, some of the most important invariants in science are not quanÂ titative at all, but are what Allen Newell and I (1976) have called "laws of qualitative structure. " For example, the germ theory of disease, surely one of Pasteur's major contributions to biology, says only something like: "If you observe pathology, look for a microorganism-it might be causing the sympÂ toms. " Similarly, modem molecular genetics stems from the approximately correct generalization that inheritance of traits is governed by the arrangement of long helical sequences of the four DNA nucleotides. Finally, in biological (induding human) realms, systems change adaptively over time. Simple change is not the problem, for Newton showed how we can write invariant laws as differential equations that describe the eternal moveÂ ments of the heavens. But with adaptative change, which is as much governed by a system's environment as by its internal constitution, it becomes more difficult to identify true invariants. As a result, evolutionary biology has a rather different flavor from physics, chemistry, or even molecular biology. In establishing aspirations for psychology it is useful to keep all of these
Annual Review of Psychology – Annual Reviews
Published: Feb 1, 1990
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