In this book, a case study of a humanistic reading of an essential evolutionary theorist, George C. Williams (May 12, 1926–September 8, 2010), the author contends that certain classic works of evolutionary theory and history are the most important nature writing of recent times. What it means to be scientifically literate—is essential for humanistic scholars, who must ground themselves with literary reading of scientific texts. As the most influential American evolutionary theorist of the second half of the twentieth century, Williams masters critique, frames questions about adaptation and natural selection, and answers in a plain, aphoristic writing style. Williams aims for parsimony—to “recognize adaptation at the level necessitated by the facts and no higher”—through a minimalist writing style. This voice articulates a powerful process that operates at very low levels by blind and selfish chance at the expense of its designed products, using purely trial and error.
Summa Metaphysica proposes a comprehensive and integrated metaphysical structure – a new paradigm. Summa I: God and Evil: Religious Man (published 1988) and Summa II: God and Good: Spiritual Man (first launched 2005 online) comprise Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica series. The author has proposed that one fundamental concept – and one fundamental concept alone – Quest for Potential∞ (recursive to the infinite power) – ignited – and drives – the cosmos – and the integral infinite divine. Building upon his 1988 treatise, in Summa II: God and Good: Spiritual Man (17 years later) the author lays out his overarching metaphysical structure in very significantly greater scope, depth, breadth and texture. Summa III: The Transcendent Dynamic: Secular Man offers a metaphysics for ‘Everyman’ – de-linked from any spirituality or religious aspects. It might best be classified as ‘scientific metaphysics’. It Is anchored In a creative finesse of science and logic. Birnbaum’s paradigm is non–linear, as opposed to the linearity of the great bulk of Western philosophy. It is non– circular, as opposed to the circularity of much of Eastern philosophy. Rather, Birnbaum’s paradigm is what the author refers to as a “spiral/reflexive” dynamic (elucidated in the text). The author proposes that this Quest for Potential∞ paradigm more elegantly explains the dynamics of the cosmos – and of life, in particular – than alternate propositions. According to Birnbaum, only the full plethora of potentials – and the quest thereof – could have ignited the cosmos. The combined potentials for love, life, intellectuality, spirituality and, indeed, for an infinitely Perfect Divine, ignited, birthed, nurtured, and projected the cosmos onward on its quest towards infinity. ‘Extraordinariation,’ according to the author, is the overarching goal. Thomas Aquinas wrote Summa Theologica c. 1273 within a Christian context. The Summa Metaphysica series, proposing an original, dynamic, overarching, and integrated metaphysics, is crafted within a Jewish context seven hundred years later.
European and American scholars from the eighteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries thought that all societies passed through the same developmental stages, from primitive to advanced. Implicit in this developmental paradigm—one that has affected generations of thought on societal development—was the assumption that one could "read history sideways." That is, one could see what the earlier stages of a modern Western society looked like by examining contemporaneous so-called primitive societies in other parts of the world. In Reading History Sideways, leading family scholar Arland Thornton demonstrates how this approach, though long since discredited, has permeated Western ideas and values about the family. Further, its domination of social science for centuries caused the misinterpretation of Western trends in family structure, marriage, fertility, and parent-child relations. Revisiting the "developmental fallacy," Thornton here traces its central role in changes in the Western world, from marriage to gender roles to adolescent sexuality. Through public policies, aid programs, and colonialism, it continues to reshape families in non-Western societies as well.
Evolutionary science is not only one of the greatest breakthroughs of modern science, but also one of the most controversial. Perhaps more than any other scientific area, evolutionary science has caused us all to question what we are, where we came from, and how we relate to the rest of the universe. Encyclopedia of Evolution contains more than 200 entries that span modern evolutionary science and the history of its development. This comprehensive volume clarifies many common misconceptions about evolution. For example, many people have grown up being told that the fossil record does not demonstrate an evolutionary pattern, and that there are many missing links. In fact, most of these missing links have been found, and their modern representatives are often still alive today. The biographical entries represent evolutionary scientists within the United States who have had and continue to have a major impact on the broad outline of evolutionary science. The biographies chosen reflect the viewpoints of scientists working within the United States. Five essays that explore interesting questions resulting from studies in evolutionary science are included as well. The appendix consists of a summary of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, which is widely considered to be the foundational work of evolutionary science and one of the most important books in human history. The five essays include: How much do genes control human behavior?What are the ghosts of evolution?Can an evolutionary scientist be religious?Why do humans die?Are humans alone in the universe
We think of medical science and doctors as focused on treating conditions—whether it’s a cough or an aching back. But the sicknesses and complaints that cause us to seek medical attention actually have deeper origins than the superficial germs and behaviors we regularly fault. In fact, as Jeremy Taylor shows in Body by Darwin, we can trace the roots of many medical conditions through our evolutionary history, revealing what has made us susceptible to certain illnesses and ailments over time and how we can use that knowledge to help us treat or prevent problems in the future. In Body by Darwin, Taylor examines the evolutionary origins of some of our most common and serious health issues. To begin, he looks at the hygiene hypothesis, which argues that our obsession with anti-bacterial cleanliness, particularly at a young age, may be making us more vulnerable to autoimmune and allergic diseases. He also discusses diseases of the eye, the medical consequences of bipedalism as they relate to all those aches and pains in our backs and knees, the rise of Alzheimer’s disease, and how cancers become so malignant that they kill us despite the toxic chemotherapy we throw at them. Taylor explains why it helps to think about heart disease in relation to the demands of an ever-growing, dense, muscular pump that requires increasing amounts of nutrients, and he discusses how walking upright and giving birth to ever larger babies led to a problematic compromise in the design of the female spine and pelvis. Throughout, he not only explores the impact of evolution on human form and function, but he integrates science with stories from actual patients and doctors, closely examining the implications for our health. As Taylor shows, evolutionary medicine allows us think about the human body and its adaptations in a completely new and productive way. By exploring how our body’s performance is shaped by its past, Body by Darwin draws powerful connections between our ancient human history and the future of potential medical advances that can harness this knowledge.
"Although Charles Darwin predicted that his theory 'would give zest to ... metaphysics, ' even he would be astonished at the variety of paths his theory has in fact taken. This holds with regard to both gene-Darwinism, a purified Darwinian approach biologizing the social sciences, and process- Darwinism found in the disciplines of psychology, philosophy of science, and economics. Although Darwinism is often linked to highly confirmed biological theories, some of its interpretations seem to profit from tautological claims as well, where scientific reputation cloaks ideological usage. This book discusses central tenets of Darwinism historically as well as systematically, for example the history of different Darwinian paradigms, the units-of-selection debate, and the philosophical problem of induction as basis of metaphysical Darwinism. Crucially the book addresses the Darwinian claim that evolution is governed by an immutable and unrelentingly cruel law of natural selection. Paradoxically, Darwins theory is a static, non-evolutionary theory of evolution. The current book sketches the historical background and provides suggestions that may help to replace this approach by the idea of an evolution of evolutionary mechanisms (see Escher's 'Drawing Hands' on the cover). This view even suggests a tendency to overcome the blindness of the knowledge acquisition of primordial Darwinian processes and allows for some freedom from external environments. This book first develops a radically Darwinian approach, then criticises this approach from within. Even Darwinism has a tendency to transcend itself. Although the book addresses several empirical issues, it does not challenge particular findings. Instead it builds on many insights of Darwinism and provides a proposal for interpreting known empirical evidence in a different light. It should help pave the way for further developing an understanding of nature that transcends Darwinian metaphysics"--Publisher's description.
This is the first integrated and comprehensive textbook to explain the principles of evolutionary biology from a medical perspective and to focus on how medicine and public health might utilise evolutionary biology.
T. H. Huxley (1825-1895) was not only an active protagonist in the religious and scientific upheaval that followed the publication of Darwin's theory of evolution but also a harbinger of the sociobiological debates about the implications of evolution that are now going on. His seminal lecture Evolution and Ethics, reprinted here with its introductory Prolegomena, argues that the human psyche is at war with itself, that humans are alienated in a cosmos that has no special reference to their needs, and that moral societies are of necessity in conflict with the natural conditions of their existence. Seen in the light of current understanding of the mechanisms of evolution, these claims remain as controversial today as they were when Huxley proposed them. In this volume George Williams, one of the best-known evolutionary biologists of our time, asserts that recent biological ideas and data justify a more extreme condemnation of the "cosmic process" than Huxley advocated and more extreme denial that the forces that got us here are capable of maintaining a viable world. James Paradis, an expert in Victorian studies, has written an introduction that sets the celebrated lecture in the context of cultural history, revealing it to be an impressive synthesis of Victorian thinking, as well as a challenge to eighteenth-century assumptions about the harmony of of nature. With Huxley's lecture as a focal point, the three parts of this book unite philosophy and science in a shared quest that recalls their common origins as systems of knowledge. Originally published in 1989. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
With over forty chapters, written by leading scholars, this comprehensive volume represents the best work in America, Europe, and Asia. Geographical diversity of the authors is reflected in the different perspectives devoted to the subject, and all major disciplinary developments are covered. There are also sections concerning the countries that have made the most significant contributions, the relationship between science and industry, the importance of instrumentation, and the cultural influence of scientific modes of thought. Students and professionals will come to appreciate how, and why, science has developed - as with any other human activity, it is subject to the dynamics of society and politics.
In this interdisciplinary work, author Ron Edwards offers an innovative rereading of H. G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau." Edwards utilizes his twenty-five years in biology and the ethics of animal research to examine the bioethical implications of Wells' work and its relevance to contemporary scientific and philosophical discussions. He tackles the myth of human exceptionalism, the notion that we are fundamentally different from the rest of the animal kingdom. We must view ourselves, he argues, not as from animals, but as animals. The approachable tone is suitable for a wide audience of the scientifically curious. At the same time, great care is given to providing an accurate and considered treatment of the technical aspects of the novel, including the scientific plausibility of Dr. Moreau's experiment. Never before have Wells' ideas been examined in such detail by an evolutionary biologist with the author's considerable experience. The implications are far-reaching, touching on key topics in animal rights, evolution, and the relationship between religion and science. Its approachability and dedication to technical accuracy produces a unique perspective on Wells' classic. Anyone with an interest in confronting some of the central issues of human existence through the lens of fiction will be rewarded with an original and thought-provoking work.
Recent interest in the evolution of the social contract is extended by providing a throughly naturalistic, evolutionary account of the biological underpinnings of a social contract theory of morality. This social contract theory of morality (contractevolism) provides an evolutionary justification of the primacy of a moral principle of maximisation of the opportunities for evolutionary reproductive success (ERS), where maximising opportunities does not entail an obligation on individuals to choose to maximise their ERS. From that primary principle, the moral principles of inclusion, individual sovereignty (liberty) and equality can be derived. The implications of these principles, within contractevolism, are explored through an examination of patriarchy, individual sovereignty and copulatory choices, and overpopulation and extinction. Contractevolism is grounded in evolutionary dynamics that resulted in humans and human societies. The most important behavioural consequences of evolution to contractevolism are reciprocity, cooperation, empathy, and the most important cognitive consequences are reason and behavioural modification.