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Popular Science: Anton Markoš: Profil senescenta

At the occasion of his jubilee, scientist, university lecturer and writer Anton Markoš published a collection of essays, studies and short texts he had written over the past 10 years. It is a diverse collection, and in his lively language, the author invites readers to follow him on his journey through various topics. On this path, he attempts to understand the very essence of life.

Although originally a molecular biologist, his work extends into other issues of natural history and philosophy. It gives him the opportunity to see his questions from all sides and to cast light on them gradually from different—and sometimes unexpected angles. Rotating and circling around a topic is a method: the method of Hermeneutics, a discipline of interpreting texts (and not only texts) in various contexts from the point of view of the authors, their formation, and even from readers.

Anton Markoš: Profil senescenta

The author frequently mentions and uses Hermeneutics, informing readers in gripping but thorough writing of the circumstances of genesis and the developments of various biological theories. Many scientists are apt to regard scientific facts as “eternal truth” and forget that even these had to undergo a complex process of construction. Moreover, scientific facts partially reflect the historical era of their discovery.

The author’s interests extend beyond this analysis of the rise of scientific theories of life. He boldly questions the essence of life, including those characteristics which are beyond the capability of modern natural history. Modern natural history is defined as a science of timeless laws, invariants, of “objective reality”. The author writes that life is not “only a complex chemical reaction”, however. This statement is not a resignation. It is a challenge for a greater search, including some still neglected qualities.

Suddenly, our eyes see with new vision—living organisms endowed with memory, experience, language, the ability to interpret themselves and their environment and possibly also with the struggle for life. Life is what takes care of life, what strives to keep itself alive and live through. Studying a biosphere defined in such terms is really beyond the reach of classical natural history. It is not because there is something “wrong” with modern science. It was merely made for studying other phenomena. This is why the author applies Hermeneutics, (Bio)Semiotics, Historical sciences and Philosophy (e.g., Martin Heidegger). He does not offer us complex theories, rather outlines some paths that our thinking and studies could take. Journeying with his texts is fascinating: it is a kind of initiation that shows us many overlooked (but obvious) phenomena. It can help beginning and advanced biologists find new questions and ideas—and reflect on their own opinions as well.

Anton Markoš: Profil senescenta. Nakladatelství Pavel Mervart: Červený Kostelec, 2018.

Roman Figura

Published: Feb 25, 2019 08:15 AM

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