Mind the metaphor

By February 12, 2015CRISPR, Ethical, Gene Drive, Legal, RNAi

Author(s): Pauwels, Eleonore

Publication: Nature

Publication Date: 2013

Abstract: DNA barcodes, gene-shuffling, BioBrick parts and cells as hardware: synthetic biology is saturated with metaphors. And it is not an isolated case. In 1976, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term ‘selfish gene’ to explain a DNA-centred view of evolution. Ecologists built a whole metaphorical language around the idea of the ‘household of nature’, including terms such as competition and colonies. Beyond the natural sciences, the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, described the restoration of an ego damaged by neurosis as the “reclamation of flooded lands”.

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