Steven Pinker, as one of the world’s leading thinkers, and a great proponent of evolutionary theory, has in his last two major works taken a bolder step in showing just how much we have progressed and overcome the many pitfalls of natural selection, to become a wiser and better species. Despite the many detractors he has had to face in this endeavour, he puts across a very convincing case, and develops a challenging argument about how we can move forward in answering the many problems that we currently face.
This is an important book that brings together thinking from a wide range of sciences. In it they give a good snap shot of how holistic thinking across domains has led to a far more comprehensive and complex understanding of the problems facing humanity, and more realistic appraisal of solutions that may be applied.
This is an important book that describes the evolution of mankind with particular reference to the co-evolution of culture and genes. In doing so, he develops new and emerging ideas of epigenetic mechanisms of adaptation and heredity, including developmental plasticity, niche construction, and language use. In doing this, he expands the scope of our understanding of the complex interplay of factors that have led us to be the most dominant species on the planet. Through writing all this in language that can be understood by the general reader, he gives the oppotunity for this to be shared by anyone who has an interest in the subject. Book Review – Jo Henrich
Evolution in 4 dimensions, revised Edition, by Eva Jablonka and Marion J Lamb (2014). There have been some very significant breakthroughs in Evolutionary theory in the last few years, many of which challenge the concept of all evolutionary change happening through genetic mechanisms. This opens up the possibility of understanding a much wider range of behaviours as being evolutionary adaptive but not fixed in the genome. This book is a very recent summary of these new research directions in Evolutionary theory, which broaden the field in exciting ways. I think this book is very important, and also has specific implications for understanding human mental health.
In this book, Damasio sets out on an ambitious challenge – to create a plausible chronology of how the human mind has evloved the capacity to have a life long sense of personal agency and self awareness, and to integrate research that is relevant to this, though it comes from many diverse disciplines.
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