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The Principles of Change That Shape Life
Cells to Civilizations is the first unified account of how life transforms itself--from the production of bacteria to the emergence of complex civilizations. What are the connections between evolving microbes, an egg that develops into an infant, and a child who learns to walk and talk? Award-winning scientist Enrico Coen synthesizes the growth of living systems and creative processes, and he reveals that the four great life transformations--evolution, development, learning, and human culture--while typically understood separately, actually all revolve around shared core principles and manifest the same fundamental recipe. Coen blends provocative discussion, the latest scientific research, and colorful examples to demonstrate the links between these critical stages in the history of life.
Coen tells a story rich with genes, embryos, neurons, and fascinating discoveries. He examines the development of the zebra, the adaptations of seaweed, the cave paintings of Lascaux, and the formulations of Alan Turing. He explores how dogs make predictions, how weeds tell the time of day, and how our brains distinguish a Modigliani from a Rembrandt. Locating commonalities in important findings, Coen gives readers a deeper understanding of key transformations and provides a bold portrait for how science both frames and is framed by human culture.
A compelling investigation into the relationships between our biological past and cultural progress, Cells to Civilizations presents a remarkable story of living change.
The Concise Story of an Extraordinary Man
Two hundred years after Charles Darwin's birth (February 12, 1809), this thoroughly illustrated, yet concise biography reveals the great scientist as husband, father, and friend. Tim M. Berra, whose "Darwin: The Man" lectures are in high demand worldwide, tells the fascinating story of the person and the idea that changed everything. Berra discusses Darwin’s revolutionary scientific work, its impact on modern-day biological science, and the influence of Darwin’s evolutionary theory on Western thought. But Berra digs deeper to reveal Darwin the man by combining anecdotes with carefully selected illustrations and photographs. This small gem of a book includes 20 color plates and 60 black-and-white illustrations, along with an annotated list of Darwin’s publications and a chronology of his life.
Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution
Why do humans, uniquely among animals, cooperate in large numbers to advance projects for the common good? Contrary to the conventional wisdom in biology and economics, this generous and civic-minded behavior is widespread and cannot be explained simply by far-sighted self-interest or a desire to help close genealogical kin.
In A Cooperative Species, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis--pioneers in the new experimental and evolutionary science of human behavior--show that the central issue is not why selfish people act generously, but instead how genetic and cultural evolution has produced a species in which substantial numbers make sacrifices to uphold ethical norms and to help even total strangers.
The authors describe how, for thousands of generations, cooperation with fellow group members has been essential to survival. Groups that created institutions to protect the civic-minded from exploitation by the selfish flourished and prevailed in conflicts with less cooperative groups. Key to this process was the evolution of social emotions such as shame and guilt, and our capacity to internalize social norms so that acting ethically became a personal goal rather than simply a prudent way to avoid punishment.
Using experimental, archaeological, genetic, and ethnographic data to calibrate models of the coevolution of genes and culture as well as prehistoric warfare and other forms of group competition, A Cooperative Species provides a compelling and novel account of how humans came to be moral and cooperative.
Nature, Humanity, and God
This collection of essays originated in conferences held at the Gregorian University in Rome and at the University of Notre Dame to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. These essays, by leading scholars, assess the continuing relevance of Darwin's work from the perspectives of biological science, history, philosophy, and theology. The contributors focus on three primary areas: developments in evolutionary biology that open up new ground for interdisciplinary dialogue; reflections on human evolution, with a particular focus on evolution and ethics; and new reflections on theology and evolution, particularly from a Roman Catholic perspective, drawing both on traditional perspectives and on new currents in Catholic theology.
A Modern Rendition
Charles Darwin’s most famous book On the Origin of Species is without question, one of the most important books ever written. While even the grandest works of Victorian English can prove difficult to modern readers, Darwin wrote his text in haste and under intense pressure. For an era in which Darwin is more talked about than read, Daniel Duzdevich offers a clear, modern English rendering of Darwin’s first edition. Neither an abridgement nor a summary, this version might best be described as a "translation" for contemporary English readers. A monument to reasoned insight, the Origin illustrates the value of extensive reflection, carefully gathered evidence, and sound scientific reasoning. By removing the linguistic barriers to understanding and appreciating the Origin, this edition aims to bring 21st-century readers into closer contact with Darwin’s revolutionary ideas.
Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noosphere
This book inquires into the swarm of ontological, epistemological, and ethical questions provoked by psychedelic experience in the context of global ecological crisis. Richard M. Doyle is professor of English and science, technology, and society at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of On Beyond Living and Wetwares.
Evolutionary Biology in the Modern World
Extending the human life-span past 120 years. The "green" revolution. Evolution and human psychology. These subjects make today's newspaper headlines. Yet much of the science underlying these topics stems from a book published nearly 140 years ago--Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Far from an antique idea restricted to the nineteenth century, the theory of evolution is one of the most potent concepts in all of modern science.
In Darwin's Spectre, Michael Rose provides the general reader with an introduction to the theory of evolution: its beginning with Darwin, its key concepts, and how it may affect us in the future. First comes a brief biographical sketch of Darwin. Next, Rose gives a primer on the three most important concepts in evolutionary theory--variation, selection, and adaptation. With a firm grasp of these concepts, the reader is ready to look at modern applications of evolutionary theory. Discussing agriculture, Rose shows how even before Darwin farmers and ranchers unknowingly experimented with evolution. Medical research, however, has ignored Darwin's lessons until recently, with potentially grave consequences. Finally, evolution supplies important new vantage points on human nature. If humans weren't created by deities, then our nature may be determined more by evolution than we have understood. Or it may not be. In this question, as in many others, the Darwinian perspective is one of the most important for understanding human affairs in the modern world.
Darwin's Spectre explains how evolutionary biology has been used to support both valuable applied research, particularly in agriculture, and truly frightening objectives, such as Nazi eugenics. Darwin's legacy has been a comfort and a scourge. But it has never been irrelevant.
How Understanding Evolution Can Improve Agriculture
As human populations grow and resources are depleted, agriculture will need to use land, water, and other resources more efficiently and without sacrificing long-term sustainability. Darwinian Agriculture presents an entirely new approach to these challenges, one that draws on the principles of evolution and natural selection.
R. Ford Denison shows how both biotechnology and traditional plant breeding can use Darwinian insights to identify promising routes for crop genetic improvement and avoid costly dead ends. Denison explains why plant traits that have been genetically optimized by individual selection--such as photosynthesis and drought tolerance--are bad candidates for genetic improvement. Traits like plant height and leaf angle, which determine the collective performance of plant communities, offer more room for improvement. Agriculturalists can also benefit from more sophisticated comparisons among natural communities and from the study of wild species in the landscapes where they evolved.
Darwinian Agriculture reveals why it is sometimes better to slow or even reverse evolutionary trends when they are inconsistent with our present goals, and how we can glean new ideas from natural selection's marvelous innovations in wild species.