Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History

W. W. Norton & Company
6
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"Provocative and delightfully discursive essays on natural history. . . . Gould is the Stan Musial of essay writing. He can work himself into a corkscrew of ideas and improbable allusions paragraph after paragraph and then, uncoiling, hit it with such power that his fans know they are experiencing the game of essay writing at its best."--John Noble Wilford, New York Times Book Review
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About the author

Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard University. He published over twenty books, received the National Book and National Book Critics Circle Awards, and a MacArthur Fellowship.

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Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Nov 29, 2010
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Pages
544
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ISBN
9780393340822
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Essays
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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An anniversary edition of a classic in cognitive science, with a new introduction by the author.When Brainstorms was published in 1978, the interdisciplinary field of cognitive science was just emerging. Daniel Dennett was a young scholar who wanted to get philosophers out of their armchairs—and into conversations with psychologists, linguists, computer scientists. This collection of seventeen essays by Dennett offers a comprehensive theory of mind, encompassing traditional issues of consciousness and free will. Using careful arguments and ingenious thought experiments, the author exposes familiar preconceptions and hobbling intuitions. The essays are grouped into four sections: “Intentional Explanation and Attributions of Mentality”; “The Nature of Theory in Psychology”; “Objects of Consciousness and the Nature of Experience”; and “Free Will and Personhood.”This anniversary edition includes a new introduction by Dennett, “Reflections on Brainstorms after Forty Years,” in which he recalls the book's original publication by Harry and Betty Stanton of Bradford Books and considers the influence and afterlife of some of the essays. For example, “Mechanism and Responsibility” was Dennett's first articulation of his concept of the intentional stance; “Are Dreams Experiences?” anticipates the major ideas in his 1991 book Consciousness Explained; and “Where Am I?” has been variously represented in a BBC documentary, a student's Javanese shadow puppet play, and a feature-length film made in the Netherlands, Victim of the Brain.
Desde Darwin fue el primer libro que el añorado Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) publicó reuniendo algunos de los ensayos que escribía para su columna mensual del Natural History Magazine. Apareció en 1977 y fue la obra que le lanzó a una fama mundial que ya nunca abandonaría. No es un libro más de los muchos que escribió el gran paleontólogo y biólogo evolutivo de Harvard, sino uno en el que el hilo conductor son sus dos grandes amores: Darwin y su teoría de la evolución. Así, el primer grupo de artículos explora la propia teoría de Darwin, deteniéndose en cuestiones como ¿por qué esperó veintiún años antes de publicar su teoría? La aplicación del darwinismo a la evolución humana, incluyendo qué nos separa y qué nos une con las demás criaturas que pueblan la Tierra, es el tema de los dos siguientes grupos de trabajos, mientras que el cuarto estudia los esquemas de la historia de la vida, caracterizada según Gould no por la continuidad que suponía Darwin, sino por un mundo puntuado de extinciones masivas y rápidos orígenes entre largas etapas de relativa tranquilidad. De la historia de la vida, pasa en los dos siguientes apartados a la historia de su morada, la Tierra, abordando cuestiones del tipo de si tiene alguna dirección la historia geológica. Finalmente, y para que no olvidemos el impacto que nuestros propios criterios sociales y políticos tienen en la supuestamente "objetiva" ciencia, nos encontramos con ensayos en los que analiza temas tan variados como las ideas de Engels sobre la evolución humana, la teoría de Lombroso de la criminalidad innata, el determinismo biológico o la en momentos tan popular sociobiología. Todo un festín de Stephen Jay Gould en estado puro.
The world’s most revered and eloquent interpreter of evolutionary ideas offers here a work of explanatory force unprecedented in our time—a landmark publication, both for its historical sweep and for its scientific vision. With characteristic attention to detail, Stephen Jay Gould first describes the content and discusses the history and origins of the three core commitments of classical Darwinism: that natural selection works on organisms, not genes or species; that it is almost exclusively the mechanism of adaptive evolutionary change; and that these changes are incremental, not drastic. Next, he examines the three critiques that currently challenge this classic Darwinian edifice: that selection operates on multiple levels, from the gene to the group; that evolution proceeds by a variety of mechanisms, not just natural selection; and that causes operating at broader scales, including catastrophes, have figured prominently in the course of evolution. Then, in a stunning tour de force that will likely stimulate discussion and debate for decades, Gould proposes his own system for integrating these classical commitments and contemporary critiques into a new structure of evolutionary thought. In 2001 the Library of Congress named Stephen Jay Gould one of America’s eighty-three Living Legends—people who embody the “quintessentially American ideal of individual creativity, conviction, dedication, and exuberance.” Each of these qualities finds full expression in this peerless work, the likes of which the scientific world has not seen—and may not see again—for well over a century.
"People of good will wish to see science and religion at peace. . . . I do not see how science and religion could be unified, or even synthesized, under any common scheme of explanation or analysis; but I also do not understand why the two enterprises should experience any conflict." So states internationally renowned evolutionist and bestselling author Stephen Jay Gould in the simple yet profound thesis of his brilliant new book.

Writing with bracing intelligence and elegant clarity, Gould sheds new light on a dilemma that has plagued thinking people since the Renaissance. Instead of choosing between science and religion, Gould asks, why not opt for a golden mean that accords dignity and distinction to each realm?

At the heart of Gould's penetrating argument is a lucid, contemporary principle he calls NOMA (for nonoverlapping magisteria)--a "blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution" that allows science and religion to coexist peacefully in a position of respectful noninterference. Science defines the natural world; religion, our moral world, in recognition of their separate spheres of influence.

In elaborating and exploring this thought-provoking concept, Gould delves into the history of science, sketching affecting portraits of scientists and moral leaders wrestling with matters of faith and reason. Stories of seminal figures such as Galileo, Darwin, and Thomas Henry Huxley make vivid his argument that individuals and cultures must cultivate both a life of the spirit and a life of rational inquiry in order to experience the fullness of being human.

In his bestselling books Wonderful Life, The Mismeasure of Man, and Questioning the Millennium, Gould has written on the abundance of marvels in human history and the natural world. In Rocks of Ages, Gould's passionate humanism, ethical discernment, and erudition are fused to create a dazzling gem of contemporary cultural philosophy. As the world's preeminent Darwinian theorist writes, "I believe, with all my heart, in a respectful, even loving concordat between . . . science and religion."


From the Hardcover edition.
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