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Human Evolution beyond Biology and Culture

Book description

Both natural and cultural selection played an important role in shaping human evolution. Since cultural change can itself be regarded as evolutionary, a process of gene-culture coevolution is operative. The study of human evolution - in past, present and future - is therefore not restricted to biology. An inclusive comprehension of human evolution relies on integrating insights about cultural, economic and technological evolution with relevant elements of evolutionary biology. In addition, proximate causes and effects of cultures need to be added to the picture - issues which are at the forefront of social sciences like anthropology, economics, geography and innovation studies. This book highlights discussions on the many topics to which such generalised evolutionary thought has been applied: the arts, the brain, climate change, cooking, criminality, environmental problems, futurism, gender issues, group processes, humour, industrial dynamics, institutions, languages, medicine, music, psychology, public policy, religion, sex, sociality and sports.


‘This is a timely book, helping us to move out of equilibrium-based approaches that served well in the twentieth century towards a view of the contemporary world as complex, dynamic, emergent and evolutionary. Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh invites the reader into an exciting adventure applying an evolutionary approach to social, environmental and policy sciences. In an impressive manner, the book collects theoretical and empirical insights from diverse fields on the role of evolutionary thinking in understanding and acting on all kinds of real-world complex systems and their dynamics. But the book is more than a comprehensive synthesis, it is visionary and talks about evolutionary policies and transitions towards sustainability, innovations to curb climate change, reconnecting to the biosphere, as well as possible evolutionary futures for the human population. Human Evolution Beyond Biology and Culture is exciting, inspiring and forward looking. Highly recommended!’

Carl Folke - Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden

‘Van den Bergh's book is an outstanding, long-missing synthesis of current strands of evolutionary theorizing in the natural, social and cultural sciences. It fascinates the reader by its thought-provoking claim of a unity of the evolutionary approach across disciplinary boundaries and by the practical implications derived for better understanding environmental problems, climate change, economic development, technology evolution and many more present day topics.’

Ulrich Witt - Max Planck Institute of Economics, Germany

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