An Urchin in the Storm: Essays About Books and Ideas by Stephen Jay Gould PDF

By Stephen Jay Gould

ISBN-10: 0393305376

ISBN-13: 9780393305371

"What excitement to determine the cheating, the inept, and the erroneous deftly given their due, whereas compliment is lavished at the deserving―for purposes good and really stated."―Kirkus Reviews

Ranging so far as the fox and as deep because the hedgehog (the urchin of his title), Stephen Jay Gould expands on geology, organic determinism, "cardboard Darwinism," and evolutionary conception during this gleaming assortment.

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Extra resources for An Urchin in the Storm: Essays About Books and Ideas

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Cain in particular)5 have charged that critics of sociobiology have sacrificed the known truth of adaptation’s hegemony in nature in order to provide self-serving arguments for pursuing a purely political dislike of sociobiology. If I may indulge one paragraph of autobiography, I can only maintain that, in my case, the location of strict adaptationism as the central fallacy of contemporary Darwinism had three major roots, two preceding sociobiology. The first arose from seven years’ composition of Ontogeny and Phylogeny (1977), and my growing respect for the great European structuralist literature on laws of form (dating to such seminal thinkers as Goethe and Geoffroy).

Hence, female investment must be prolonged and costly. Females receive no Darwinian edge in promiscuity since no gain in reproductive success attends any copulation after fertilization (while males can sew seed with their wild oats ad infinitum). Hence, female adaptations veer from profligacy toward care in choosing the best and most helpful males to father their offspring. The sociopolitical line of the pop argument now leaps from the page: males are aggressive, assertive, promiscuous, overbearing; females are coy, discriminating, loyal, caring—and these differences are adaptive, Darwinian, genetic, proper, good, inevitable, unchangeable….

I maintain no hostility towards the hope for new principles in the explanation of mind, but rebel against the perilous slide from our current ignorance to a claim for ineffability (and the even further slide to a glorification of the nonrational). Complex, contingent, interactive, hierarchical do not mean unknowable—quite the reverse, for these are the tools of a different kind of rational understanding. No force can be so powerfully destructive, so capable of undoing the patient struggles of centuries with a single blow, than irrationalism (especially when fueled by the “true belief” that converts such fine concepts as patriotism and religion into dangerous weapons of destruction).

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An Urchin in the Storm: Essays About Books and Ideas by Stephen Jay Gould


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