Descartes Applied To Biology


Descartes Applied To Biology
Descartes method of questioning what is real is a very important aspect of the
world of science. I will show how this method of philosophy is crucial to the
studies of biology. Descartes said that the only time that something is not
doubted is when it is clear and distinctly true. This is the difference in
science between theory and fact. In order for something to be clear and distinct
it must be a fact. DNA was discovered on April 25,1953 by James Watson and

Francis Crick. They discovered that it was a double helix made up of 5 carbon
sugars, phosphates, and 4 different nitrogenous bases. This is where Descartes
comes in to play. There was much questioning whether DNA even existed and if it
did what was it like. DNA is only about 10 nanometers wide so it is extremely
small and easily overlooked. There was much research done to try to figure out
the structure of DNA molecules. Chargraff came up with the theory of there being

4 different nitrogenous bases in equal quantities purines and pyrimidines. This
was eventually proven true but at the time was not definite. Descartes would not
be satisfied with this because it wasn’t clear and distinct fact yet.

Different theories came up about the actual structure of the molecule.

Originally Watson and Crick believed that the molecule could be single stranded
and at one point they also believed that it might be triple stranded. This still
was only theory and not clear and distinct, so their research continued.

Rosalind Franklin was an assistant on the DNA project. She was an X-ray
crystallographer, which is someone who takes pictures of strands of DNA. Much
research went on till one day a picture was taken to show the B form of DNA,
which gave Watson and Crick the information that they had needed. This picture
showed that DNA was double stranded and that it was in the shape of a double
helix. It was with a little more research that it was finally proven that DNA
was a double helix and due to this structure its function was also proven. It
was now clear and distinct that DNA is real. If Watson and Crick just left their
research at one of the other points such as the single strand or triple strand
the real structure would not have been found. This would continue the doubt
about DNA’s existence and function. People would also be learning the wrong
information because they would be learning about theories that were never
concluded. The same thing is being done with the cure to Cancer as well as many
other diseases. Possible cures are thought up very often. These possible cures
are far off to be factual. It takes many years of testing to really see whether
the original theory of the cure will actually work. Even then there is still
doubt. The problem with most drugs is that they react differently to each
individual in terms of their success. This would make drugs go against what

Descartes would trust because it is not fact. If you decide to take a drug to
cure cancer it may not because there is no proven way at this time. Descartes’
theory is pretty much the basis for the world of science in general. Science is
made up of people doubting things and only believing in them when they are
proven fact. This is what Descartes’ whole point was in his theory. Trust only
what is fact. Ideas begin with a hypothesis, which is an educated guess. The
hypothesis is the basis for the research. They are then tested and theories
arise. Theories are still not proven even though there has been research done.

Much research needs to be done before it can be proven. Only then can the end
result be clear and distinct fact. Biology and all science is based on these
theories of questioning till proven. Science is respected because things are
tested till they are clear and distinct facts. This is why science can be
trusted by the ideals of Descartes.

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