The formation of the theory of homology in biological sciences

Acta Biotheoretica 55 (4):317-340 (2007)
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Abstract

Homology is among the most important comparative concepts in biology. Today, the evolutionary reinterpretation of homology is usually conceived of as the most important event in the development of the concept. This paradigmatic turning point, however important for the historical explanation of life, is not of crucial importance for the development of the concept of homology itself. In the broadest sense, homology can be understood as sameness in reference to the universal guarantor so that in this sense the different concepts of homology show a certain kind of “metahomology”. This holds in the old morphological conception, as well as in the evolutionary usage of homology. Depending on what is (or was) taken as a guarantor, different types of homology may be distinguished (as idealistic, historical, developmental etc.). This study represents a historical overview of the development of the homology concept followed by some clues on how to navigate the pluralistic terminology of modern approaches to homology.

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