The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Epigenetic landscape

An apparent paradox is that  different genetic programs can produce the same organism. In most cases, far less than 50% of the genes of an individual are shared with individuals of the same species.  The individuals of a species differ in all sorts of ways, but somehow their genetic programs are tolerant to such differences and eventually yield individuals of the same species. The British geneticist Conrad Waddington ("Canalization of Development and the Inheritance of Acquired Characters", 1942) proposed a possible solution to the apparent paradox: the development of an individual is immune to the pull of the genes. Development is "canalized". He imagined an "epigenetic landscape" created by the concurrent pressures of the environment and the genetic program. Development occurs as a traversing of this landscape. The landscape varies from individual to individual, but it always maintains its fundamental shape of a gently sloping surface, that ends in the same valley. No matter how the landscape is traversed, the motion will always end in that valley.


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