Amalia Vasilakaki – Georgios Ardavanis (Ph.D.)

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This memorial is a reflection and a warm goodbye to a great friend of mine, Ms. Amalia Vasilakaki, who died a few months ago.
I recall a late-night meeting at Amalia’s house between myself (a high school student at the time), Amalia Vasilakaki (preparing for national exams to enter medical school), and Christos Jamalis (already a medical student) to discuss Jacques Monod’s book “Chance and Necessity.”
Jacques Monod was a French biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1965.
Since that night, the book “Chance and Necessity” (in Greek: Κατά τύχη και αναγκαιότητα) became one of my favorite books on the philosophy of biology, and I still have the original book that we used it as a reference during that discussion.
We stayed up all night trying to understand Monod’s philosophical considerations of various topics such as the natural-artificial distinction, reproduction, teleonomy, and invariance,
In his book, Monod pin-points the contradiction between the teleonomy of living organisms and the principle of objectivity. Every page that night became a steep high-hill adventure with regards to the workings of biological systems, with an emphasis on biochemistry and specifically on proteins rather than on nucleic acids, and in particular, their status as teleonomic agents: (e.g., their catalytic ability, their role in cellular control systems and their ability to self-assemble). This approach differs from the usual viewpoint, which sees the genome as fundamental and proteins as secondary. The philosophical approach to understanding human evolution and its development became easier than earlier biochemistry topics.
Further discussions and repetitive explanations were undertaken to understand the issues at the frontiers of biology, from the origins of life to the nature of perception. We stayed there debating between screaming and laughing until the following day. I enjoyed all the experience and knowledge I received on the fundamental questions of human existence at such early age. Thank you, Amalia, for your friendship and love.

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