"The answer to The Selfish Gene"

This page is where readers who wish to go deeper can find the ideas of The Music of Life sourced and developed further in video and published lectures. The full set of articles form an inter-related set. There is a quick download list at the bottom left of this page for those who wish to have the complete set.



"no privileged level of causality"


"neo-Darwinian synthesis now known to be incompatible with the most recent discoveries"



"In addition to natural selection,

Darwin admits use and disuse as an important evolutionary mechanism"


"We are all feeling our way in the face of the extreme complexity of nature"



Quick download list:


Paton Lecture

Genes and Causation

Biophysics and Systems Biology

"Letter from Lamarck"

Selfish genes

Molecular Systems Biology

Systems Biology: an approach

Selfish genes: are they of any use in physiology?

A Theory of Biological relativity

Evolution article 2013

Evolution article 2014


Music of Life Sourcebook

(The complete set of articles listed above)



More downloads



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"The Book of Life is Life itself" (The Music of Life p 51)

Lecture in China on Physiology & Evolution

(20,000 views on websites worldwide)

click on image below


Rocking the foundations of biology

A major revolution is occurring in evolutionary biology. In this video the President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences, Professor Denis Noble, explains what is happening and why it is set to change the nature of biology and the importance of physiology to that change. The lecture was given to a large general audience at a major international Congress in Suzhou, China. The implications of the change extend far beyond biology itself. This video will also interest economists, business leaders, politicians and others who deal with the important social questions that have been raised by ideas in evolutionary biology ever since Darwin wrote his Origin of Species. The lecture is published as anarticle. Answers to frequent questions are on Answers


Systems Biology and personalised medicine

Discussion at opening of Systems Biology Institute

at University College Dublin

5th December 2013


Denis Noble in discussion with Aine Lawlor (RTE) and Linda Avey (23andMe)

Topics include gene sequencing -- what it can tell patients and doctors; the challenge of complex disease -- could herbal remedies be the way forward? --

the future challenges for systems biology. 



Music of Life lecture  
(over 4000 views)

Lecture  using stories from The Music of Life with music accompaniment
given at Out of the Box conference in Maribor in May 2012)


Lecture in Dresden Ten principles of Systems Biology  
(Over 7000 views)

Lecture given at a Conference on Complex systems in Dresden. It begins by noting that we do not yet really know what Systems Biology is.
I agree with the following remark:

"You are probably running out of patience for some definition of systems biology. In any case, I do not think the explicit definition of systems biology should come from me but should await the words of the first great modern systems biologist. She or he is probably among us now." (Marc Kirschner, Harvard University, 2005, Cell, 121, 503-504).

We are all feeling our way in the face of the extreme complexity of nature and the daunting task of unraveling her secrets.


Margulis-Dawkins debate in Oxford
(over 5000 views)
Chaired by Denis Noble





Debate with Sydney Brenner



Debate in Leipzig in July 2012 on the motion:

"No privileged level of causation:

An organism is not defined by its genome"


Lectures in Oxford  on www.pulse-project.org

These lectures on systems biology for a public audience were accompanied with music, one of them with the renowned classical guitarist, Christoph Denoth ( http://www.christophdenoth.com   )

Lecture in Freiburg

Plenary lecture, "Principles of systems biology and their application to cells", given at the conference "Systems Biology of Mammalian Cells" in Freiburg in June 2010:  Where are the cathedrals of the 21st century? They are here in this room!


Published Lectures & articles (download pdfs)

Paton Lecture (ten principles of Systems Biology)

Principle of Biological Relativity

"There is no privileged level of causality in biological systems" (The Music of Life, page xii)  This lecture develops this principle in the context of general principles of systems biology.

Genes and Causation (relations between genes and phenotype)

Third principle: DNA is not the sole transmitter of inheritance.

"There are two components to molecular inheritance: the genome DNA, which can be viewed as digital information, and the cellular machinery, which can, perhaps by contrast, be viewed as analogue information."

Biophysics and Systems Biology (why Systems Biology is revolutionary)

Systems biology and evolution

"Central building blocks of the neo-Darwinian synthesis are now known to be incompatible with the most recent discoveries in molecular biology."

"Letter from Lamarck"


"There is a widespread perception that Darwin and Lamarck fought over this issue of the mechanisms of inheritance" (The Music of Life, page 99). This brief "Letter from Lamarck" explains why this perception is profoundly incorrect.

Selfish genes: are they of any use in physiology?

"The selfish gene idea is not useful in the physiological sciences, since selfishness cannot be defined as an intrinsic property of nucleotide sequences independently of gene frequency, i.e. the ‘success’ in the gene pool that is supposed to be attributable to the ‘selfish’ property. It is not a physiologically testable hypothesis.

Differential and Integral views of genetics

"This article uses an integrative systems biological view of the relationship between genotypes and phenotypes to clarify some conceptual problems in biological debates about causality. The differential (gene-centric) view is incomplete in a sense analogous to using differentiation without integration in mathematics."

A Theory of Biological relativity

Biological relativity can be seen as an extension of the relativity principle by avoiding the assumption that there is a privileged scale at which biological functions are determined. It forms part of an issue of the journal Interface Focus devoted to downward causation.


Lectures in French  

On French translation page


Concert Lectures

On Music page


The MUSIC of Life: Biology Beyond the Genome ©Denis Noble