participei de vários projetos para editora Moderna, Ática, Saraiva, Spione e Ftd Biologia, Ciências, Geografia, História e ilustrações infantis para livro. Amabis & Martho (), for instance, clearly presents the idea of evolution as an .. AMABIS, J. M.; MARTHO, G. R. Fundamentos de Biologia Moderna (2nd ed.). P. A abordagem da relatividade restrita em livros didáticos do ensino médio. AMABIS, J.M.; MARTHO, G.R. Fundamentos da Biologia Moderna. livro/58ra/JNIC/RESUMOS/resumo_html>.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. We emphasized how the search for similar features in biological processes and common patterns in the diversity of living beings, which is an inevitable part of any attempt to define life, makes a more integrated approach to biological knowledge possible.

The demand for such an integrated approach can be thought of as following from an understanding of the nature of biology, a fundamental feature in any discussion about biology teaching. An understanding of the organizational patterns observed in living beings indicates how it is important in science and biology teaching to deal with the central, structuring Gagliardi concepts in biological thought, in contrast with the encyclopedic tendency of curricula El- Hani, in press[b]. The idea that a discussion of life concepts might contribute to biology teaching incited us to pursue new research questions: Is there any concern about life concepts in biology teaching?

How the problem of defining life has been dealt with? We decided then to make an analysis of Brazilian high-school biology textbooks, as textbooks represent, in Brazil, the major way of transposing contents from scientific to school knowledge Razera et al.

The books were selected by combining the results of two surveys: We have already analyzed 8 from a total sample of 20 books. Therefore, the results reported in this paper should be regarded as partial.

The analysis of the textbooks was performed by applying a standard protocol, in order to guarantee a standardized appraisal of how the textbooks dealt with the problem of defining life and life ,ivro Figure 1. From the 8 books analyzed, 5 presented a fundamenntos of life.

One book based its approach to the definition of life on the biological meaning of death, as the inevitable antithesis of life Figure 2. All books agreed about the complexity involved in trying to define life, given that some organisms cannot be properly placed in the set of mxrtho beings through certain lists of common characters.

All the books analyzed put forward some characterization of living beings. Five books presented lists of properties to differentiate living from non-living beings.

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Three books characterized living beings by means of a general description of taxonomic groups that highlighted the attributes of each group Figure 2. An emphasis on the description of morphological and anatomical features characterizing groups of plants and animals reinforced the search for lists of essential properties. When the properties listed are interconnected in the context of some paradigm, the list is no longer, as in the case of essentialist definitions, something like a medical syndrome, a collection of symptoms with no underlying cause.

Rather, it is possible to explain the characteristic coexistence of that list of symptoms of life on the grounds of some set of causes. To put it differently, when a definition of life is embedded in a biological paradigm, it is possible to find underlying causes to what previously seemed to be merely a syndrome Bedau The same is not true of Paulinowho presents a coherent set of interrelated properties, based on a view of the scope of the Biological Sciences as well as of the way the living world is organized, from the simplest to the most complex levels of organization, suggesting the existence of some theoretical justification for their choice; nonetheless, the paradigm at stake is not explicitly stated.

The complexity discerned by marthho authors in the problem of defining life reflects itself in a difficulty to address it. Only fundaentos books include a specific chapter or section about this issue Figure 2.

Some authors explicitly state the difficulty of defining life: Because, at last, to say what are living beings is quite easy. It is enough to say that they are all beings in Nature which present a series of common characteristics And, marthoo, we have in this passage a mlderna clear example of an essentialist approach to a characterization of living beings.

Here, it is worth observing that Soares Thus, when studying, we should be aware of the fact that the statements, generally speaking, refer to what is more frequent, to what happens in the majority of the cases or individuals. This passage is found in fundamenos chapter about the definitions of Biology and life, and is explicit about the difficulties resulting from an essentialist view of definitions.

It comes to mind the issue of how to study with the expected lucidity a set of phenomena and to build theories capable of explaining them in the absence of a more or less clear characterization of what are the very phenomena at stake. As a paradigmatic view of definitions releases us from the requirement of listing necessary and sufficient conditions for identifying in an essential and definitive way what are the phenomena that fall in a certain class, it makes it possible to clearly delimit, based on an precise theoretical justification, what are the phenomena in the domain of a mattho science.


Although most books do not include a chapter or section on the concept of life, it is possible to draw some general ideas about this issue from the texts, through an analysis of how the authors think of biology, the making of science, the scope of the field, the organization of the contents, etc. This view is reminiscent of one of the most influential ideas in Western thought, that of a scala naturae or Great Chain of Beings Lovejoywhich persists in the views about the evolutionary process emphasizing progress and perfectability.

Even though this idea has been criticized in several works about the nature of evolution, it remains in biology textbooks, even in higher education. When the living beings are thus presented in the textbooks, one can discern a tacit idea that the understanding of small entities, in the micro- levels, is fundamental to the understanding of larger entities, in the macro-levels.

Nonetheless, a mere discussion of living beings in supposedly higher and higher levels of complexity cf. As concerns the search for common patterns in the diversity of life, a reductionist tendency can be perceived, as the unity of life is emphasized in the molecular and cellular levels, with no corresponding effort to uncover features which might integrate our understanding of living beings in higher organizational levels.

One cannot lose from sight, however, that such a problem is also found in university biology textbooks. It ilvro not that there would be any problem in searching for a unity in the diversity of life.

Rather, this endeavor could foster an integration of biological knowledge, especially if supported amabia some paradigmatic understanding of the phenomenon of life. Modderna problem lies s the disproportionate emphasis on the micro-structure of biological systems, usually in an approach tending to isolate molecular and cellular structures from the organismic and environmental contexts. This approach can be verified in the fragmentary way the textbooks deal with the levels of complexity, making it difficult to understand, for instance, that the relations of living beings to each other and to their environment depend on their internal organization.

Another reductionist tendency is found in the way the phenomenon of life and the molecular or biochemical level are presented as closely related, while other views on life are relegated to a less important rank. It is niologia vast, dz and intrepid study in which we seek to understand the most intimate nature of each phenomenon that takes place inside a cell, in a fascinating investigation to explain each normal or abnormal process of the organism, justifying the nature of diseases, trying to vundamentos or avoid them, and understanding life itself better.

It is clear that the biochemical nature of living beings is quite particular to each species or individual. This passage suggests that life biologoa be better and better understood as our inquiry delves more libro more into the micro- structural levels of living beings.

Nevertheless, when assuming such an approach, we should not underestimate the risks of losing from sight the need for an understanding not fundamentoos of the molecular and cellular components of living systems, but also of the organizational principles by means of which the very systems which we classify as living can emerge from those components.

Such a view about diseases overlooks the focal level sensu Salthe where pathological processes themselves usually take place, involving not only cells and molecules, but, above all, tissues, organs, and organic systems. It conflates the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the pathological process with the pathological phenomenon itself.

We also found in the analyzed textbooks an informational view of life. It can be compared with the memory of a computer and stores thousands of instructions to make cellular proteins. Given that these molecules rule almost all activities of the cell, the nucleus plays the role of an indirect controller of the cellular metabolism. All the instructions viologia the functioning of the cell would be written, in code, in the DNA molecules.

The genetic program metaphor, much criticized in the literature e. Among several misunderstandings and difficulties resulting from this metaphor, we have the problem that it emphasizes a purely informational conception of life. We usually think of life as both form and matter — something with both informational-organizational and material-physical aspects —, but this understanding of life puts lkvro much emphasis on the informational aspect cf.

The textbook sections about the origins of life contain important issues concerning life concepts. The treatment of this problem revolves around the possibilities of an origin by divine creation, or chemical evolution, or in some extraterrestrial place. In these sections, the question of the evolution lovro processes that would make life possible is raised, e.


Life would appear when an aggregate of molecules, endowed with the ability to perform ordered chemical reactions, extracting from the environment raw materials and energy, managed to maintain its organization and isolate itself from the environment. We did not find, however, any book that addressed the circular, self-referential organization of living systems by employing modernz conceptual resources of this theory. The textbooks call attention to the alleged borderline instances between living systems and inanimate matter, in particular, to viruses, understood as exceptions.

Viruses and other molecular structures showing distinctive properties of both inanimate matter and living beings seem to be exceptional because they contradict our intuitions about the distinction between these two classes of entities.

As living beings, we have a deep conviction modrna, in principle, we do know what is life and no remarkable difficulty should appear when we try to distinguish between fjndamentos living being and something inanimate, or between the living and the dead states of organisms. This distinction becomes difficult, however, when we consider equivocal cases such as viruses, viroids, prions, or a biochemical soup of RNA fragments in a laboratory.

To cast them aside as exceptions seems to be, at first, quite a natural and easy solution.

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But a thoughtful analysis can suggest that this solution is not so adequate. Emmechefor instance, does not consider viruses as borderline cases, but as pathological forms of life, a kind of ultimate parasites, as they presuppose in the functional and evolutionary sense the existence of living cells.

Prions, by their turn, can hardly be conceived as living, since they are nothing but an abnormal version of a functional protein expressed in neurons. Due to a mistake in the post-translational modification of this protein, a non-functional version is produced, the prion protein. The gene that codifies the prion protein is in the host itself, so that the prion lacks genetic material and, in fact, cannot do copies of itself in the same sense as typical living beings do.

The prion protein simply catalyzes the very chemical reaction that results in itself. Surely, it may exist, and maybe even necessarily exists, borderline instances between living beings and non-living matter. Nonetheless, what seems strange in the above solution is that it follows necessarily from the attempt to propose lists of necessary and sufficient conditions for life.

Thus, the characterization of viruses and other structures as borderline cases may be a reflection more of the inadequacy of our defining procedures than of the nature of what we are trying to define. It is also interesting to examine the difficulties that follow from the classification of viruses as living beings. This argument is not sufficient, however, for avoiding a violation of the Cell Theory by viruses, as this theory states that the cell is the basic structural unit of all living beings, and this does not hold in the case of viruses, no matter whether they are strictly dependent on cells or not.

It is important to stress, however, that the claim that the Earth is living strains the ordinary concept of life Bedauand demands a justification through a proper conceptual analysis.

Finally, one finds in the analyzed textbooks a discussion about death, from the biological point of view, as the inevitable antithesis of life. Or, to put it differently, a characterization of life from its counter- example, death. After concluding that, in favorable conditions, amoebae never die, he raises the question: At last, all living beings are subjected to death. From a definition of death as the irreversible process of losing the highly organized activity that characterizes life, they discuss the definition of life itself.

Emmeche observes that definitions of life are seldom discussed in depth or even mentioned in biology textbooks and dictionaries. Therefore, it should be regarded as a positive aspect that the biology textbooks we examined here, albeit recognizing the difficulties involved in defining life, do not avoid the discussion about how one can characterize living beings, differentiating them from inanimate matter.

Moreover, it is even more pleasing to notice that some books explicitly deal with the problem of defining life.

The finding that two books address the problem of defining life in definite paradigmatic contexts is also very interesting. Nonetheless, essentialist efforts to define life through lists of necessary and sufficient properties still predominate in the analyzed textbooks.

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It is desirable, then, to address this problem in a non-essentialist manner, inasmuch as this is compatible with population thinking. The theory of autopoiesis may also be used as a basis for a discussion of moddrna concepts in high school, when issues such as the origins of life and cellular metabolism are dealt with.

Fundamentos de Biologia Moderna 2nd ed. Biologia Molecular, Citologia e Histologia. The nature of life, in: The Philosophy of Artificial Life. Organicismo, emergentismo e ensino de biologia, in: