Purpose and Desire (Hardcover)

What Makes Something "Alive" and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It

By J. Scott Turner

HarperOne, 9780062651563, 352pp.

Publication Date: September 12, 2017

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (9/11/2018)
MP3 CD (10/24/2017)
Compact Disc (10/24/2017)

List Price: 27.99*
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A professor, biologist, and physiologist argues that modern Darwinism’s materialist and mechanistic biases have led to a scientific dead end, unable to define what life is—and only an openness to the qualities of "purpose and desire" will move the field forward.

Scott Turner contends. "To be scientists, we force ourselves into a Hobson’s choice on the matter: accept intentionality and purposefulness as real attributes of life, which disqualifies you as a scientist; or become a scientist and dismiss life’s distinctive quality from your thinking. I have come to believe that this choice actually stands in the way of our having a fully coherent theory of life."

Growing research shows that life's most distinctive quality, shared by all living things, is purpose and desire: maintain homeostasis to sustain life. In Purpose and Desire, Turner draws on the work of Claude Bernard, a contemporary of Darwin revered among physiologists as the founder of experimental medicine, to build on Bernard’s "dangerous idea" of vitalism, which seeks to identify what makes "life" a unique phenomenon of nature. To further its quest to achieve a fuller understanding of life, Turner argues, science must move beyond strictly accepted measures that consider only the mechanics of nature.

A thoughtful appeal to widen our perspective of biology that is grounded in scientific evidence, Purpose and Desire helps us bridge the ideological evolutionary divide.

About the Author

DR. J. SCOTT TURNER is a leading biologist and physiologist and professor of biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, in Syracuse, New York. His work has garnered attention in the New York Times Book Review, Science, Nature, American Scientist, National Geographic Online, NPR “Science Friday” and other leading media outlets. He is the author of two books with Harvard University Press: The Extended Organism: The Physiology of Animal Built Structures (2000) and The Tinkerer’s Accomplice: How Design Emerges from Life Itself (2007).

Praise For Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something "Alive" and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It

“Poses a profound evidence-based challenge to the reductionist foundations of modern biology, showing that living organisms are much more than ‘selfish genes.’”
Stephen C. Meyer, Ph.D., author of Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt

“Illuminating and persuasive. Turner puts his finger on the most troubling problem with today’s biological thinking and gives a fresh take on purpose as the solution. Careful readers will find it hard to disagree with him.”
Douglas Axe, Director of Biologic Institute and Author of Undeniable

“All biologists serious about the foundations and epistemology of their discipline should read this. Not since Robert Rosen’s Life Itself has there been such an eloquent, well-argued, and convincing argument for a theory of life based on the concept of organism.”
Professor Jan-Hendrik S. Hofmeyr, Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, Stellenbosch University

“Here at last is a book steeped in the intricacies of how species evolve by an accomplished biologist who dares to address the question of why. This book is a must read for all those who follow the ongoing Neo-Darwinian-Intelligent Design debate.”
Norm Book, Senior Director Carr-McClellan P.C.

“Ingenious mixture of science and philosophy that points out major defects in Darwinism and then delivers heterodox but provocative solutions…a highly thought-provoking book.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Turner argues that modern Darwinism has led us about as far as it can go, leaving questions related to the origin of life unanswered. The scientifically minded general reader will find this contrarian viewpoint ¬engaging.”
Library Journal

“A good read and a strong pitch”
New York Times Book Review

“Poses a serious challenge to traditional biology . . . a must-read for everybody interested in the science of life and evolution . . . one of those rare science books which inquisitive laypeople will equally enjoy. Purpose and Desire will change the way you think of life.”
Washington Book Review

“This beautifully written book, brimming with anecdotes and biological insights that only decades of field could provide, will leave readers moved by Turner’s deep appreciation of life’s exquisiteness, its richness, and diversity . . . a provocative thesis, but one that is a wonderfully rich read, thought-provoking, and highly recommended.”
The Quarterly Review of Biology