The epigenetic turn: Some notes about the epistemological change of perspective in biosciences

G. Nicolosi, G.T.P. Ruivenkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This article compares two different bodies of theories concerning the role of the genome in life processes. The first group of theories can be indicated as referring to the gene-centric paradigm. Dominated by an informational myth and a mechanistic Cartesian body/mind and form/substance dualism, this considers the genome as an ensemble of discrete units of information governing human body and behavior, and remains hegemonic in life sciences and in the public imagination. The second body of theories employs the principle of the extraordinary plasticity of the (body-)organism and emphasizes the value of the (body-)organism-environment mutual interchange, known as ‘the epigenetic approach’. This approach is outlined, showing a gradual, paradigmatic shift from the genecentric towards an epigenetic approach can be observed in the ‘scientific landscape’ over the last 20 years. The article concludes by formulating the argument that this ‘epigenetic turn’ in life sciences has some important implication for renewing epistemological basis of social sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-319
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • developmental plasticity
  • systems
  • biology
  • science


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