An eminent pioneer of modern protein chemistry looks back on six decades in biochemical research and education to advance stimulating thoughts about science--how it is practiced, how it is explained, and how its history is written. Taking the title of his book from Robert Boyle's classic, The Sceptical Chymist (1661), and Joseph Needham's The Sceptical Biologist (1929), Joseph Fruton brings his own skeptical vision to bear on how chemistry and biology interact to describe living systems.
Scientists, philosophers, historians, and sociologists will seize upon the questions Fruton raises: What is the nature of the tension between the chemical and the biological sciences? What are the roots and future direction of molecular biology? What is the proper place of expert scientists in the historiography of science? How does the "scientific method" really work in practice? These and many other topics are fair game for this author's wise critiques. In a stimulating final chapter, Fruton analyzes the evolution of key terms and symbols--the conceptual underpinnings used in the biochemical literature.
Joseph S. Fruton is Eugene Higgins Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus, at Yale University and a distinguished scholar whose writings on the field have been widely praised.
Preface 1. Biochemistry and Skepticism 2. Perspectives on the "Scientific Method" The Views of Peter Medawar Claude Bernard and his Medecine Experimentale Justus von Liebig on Francis Bacon On Craftsmanship On Hypotheses in the Biochemical Sciences Sanger and Insulin: A Case History The Perils of the Search for Simplicity 3. The Interplay of Biology and Chemistry The Nineteenth-Century Debates The Emergence of Biochemistry Nineteenth-Century Cytology, Embryology, and Microbiology Twentieth-Century Embryology versus Genetics The Emergence of Biochemical Genetics A "Sack Full of Enzymes"? On Biomolecular Structure Jacques Monod and "Allostery" On "Energy-Rich Phosphate Bonds" The Dynamics of Biochemical Processes On Biochemical Function and Purpose On Specificity and Individuality Evolutionary Theory and the "Unity of Biology" 4.Approaches to the History of the Biochemical Sciences On Historians of Chemistry On Historians of the Biochemical Sciences On Scientific Disciplines On the "Origins of Molecular Biology" On Scientific Biography and Autobiography 5. Reflections on the Biochemical Literature "The Words of the Tribe" Is the Scientific Paper a Fraud? Bibliography Index of Personal Names Index of Subjects