Genes v. Organisms in Biological Explanation (responding to the Dawkins v. Weinstein debate)

Here’s the recent debate between Richard Dawkins and Bret Weinstein on the relationship between cultural and biological evolution:

Here are two response videos from me arguing for the relevance of Francisco Varela and Evan Thompson et al.’s theory of autopoiesis and Alfred North Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism:


Some relevant essays that expand on the ideas I shared in the video:

“Logos of a Living Earth: Toward a New Marriage of Science and Myth for Our Planetary Future”

“The Origin of Organism: The Place of Life in the Cosmos”

“Religion in Human and Cosmic Evolution: Whitehead’s Alternative Vision”


  1. Here’s a review I did of a classic, that discusses some of these topics.

    I love what you are doing Matt.

  2. I agree completely. The Dawkins, Dennetian and Neo-Darwinist interpretation of biology is too simplistic and has run its course. It served as a useful model in evolutionary theory’s early days, but the populist crowd seems to be completely unaware that there has been significant academic assault on this position for two decades and no theological ax to grind.

    I argue that life qua life is not a phenomenon about genes or biochemistry, but a phenomenon irreducibly tied to meaning. Unless you understand that meaning is an ontologically real part of nature, you cannot understand life.

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