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Publication Details

Development of the Term „Gene“ as a Scientific Concept

(Original title: Vývoj termínu gén ako prípad vývoja vedeckého pojmu)
Filozofia, 22 (1967), 4, 359-370.
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Slovak
From the study o£ concrete material, in particular, works by J. G. Mendel and Th. H. Morgan,, several conclusions follow which are rather general in nature. They concern the historicosemantic aspect of the development of genetics as science: a) development of science (including genetics) proceeds either in such a way that the initial solution of new problems takes place in an older terminology (e. g. Mendel’s use of current terms „sign“, „factor“, „element , „gift“), or a term is used which is new as regards the word but older as regards the contents of thought (e. g., the term „unit“ in Morgan's work).
b) It may happen that in a new situation the older terminology is to be revised. This takes place either in such a way that the old terminology is given radically new contents so that the correspondence is only verbal (e. g. the original and lai;r Morgan’s interpretation of the concept of gene), or a really new terminology can arise which corresponds to the new contents (e. g. Morgan’s term „crossing-over“). However, a third possibility exists which makes it possible to take advantage of both the preceding ones.
c) It happens that a theoretical work makes maximal use of certain concepts, but they cannot be found in scientific conclusions since they are not in a position to help in an adequate expression of a new thought, though they had maximally contributed to its birth (e. g. Darwin’s „gemmules“, Spencer's „physiological units“, Weismann’s „determinants“ etc.).
d) Sometimes a different terminology arises for considerably congruent material investigated. This results in a possibility of misunderstandings or even incommunicability of the results of cognition. Therefore, it is necessary to endeavour to build up a precise, rich but also uniform terminology which would be able to express, in a maximally simple and functional way, all attained results (including the conceptual ones).
e) It is necessary to avoid situations in which the investigators use seemingly identical terminology, but its conceptual contents are different. In such a case, the conceptual difference remains hidden, unrealized and thereby also unrespected.
f) Concepts, theories etc. represent models of reality. Science does not abandon those models as long as they answer, at least relatively, their purpose. However, it endeavours that these models may be the most adequate means possible of seizing reality.
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