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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines how the concept of homology is used as an expression of generality in the life sciences. Throughout its long history, homology expressed a quest for generality in the understanding of animal anatomy by suggesting that a diversity of forms resulted from modifications of a single ‘primitive’ structure. However, the meaning of this quest as well as the practices associated with it changed considerably with the different theoretical context of the life sciences. Thus, homology was an element of continuity in the history of biology and played a central role in some developments, particularly the emergence of evolutionary theory. This article first considers the use of homology in pre-transformist comparative anatomy and how it paved the way for the conceptualization of evolutionary theory before discussing the rise of new meanings of homology in genetics.

Keywords: homology, generality, life sciences, animal anatomy, biology, evolutionary theory, comparative anatomy, evolution, genetics

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