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The last decades of the 20th century witnessed strongly growing interest in evolutionary approaches to the human past. Even now, however, there is little real agreement on what evolutionary archaeology is all about. A major obstacle is the lack of consensus on how to define the basic principles of Darwinian thought in ways that are genuinely relevant to the archaeological sciences. Each chapter in this new collection of specially invited essays focuses on a single major concept and its associated key words, summarizes its historic and current uses, and then reviews case studies illustrating that concept's present and probable future role in research. What these authors say shows the richness and current diversity of thought among those today who insist that Darwinism has a key role to play in archaeology. Each chapter includes definitions of related key words. Because the same key words may have the same or different meanings in different conceptual contexts, many of these key words are addressed in more than one chapter. In addition to exploring key concepts, collectively the book's chapters show the broad range of ideas and opinions in this intellectual arena today. This volume reflects-and clarifies-debate today on the role of Darwinism in modern archaeology, and by doing so, may help shape the directions that future work in archaeology will take.
Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is considered in its application to human beings in this book. Brian Baxter examines the various sociobiological approaches to the explanation of human behaviour which view the human brain, and so the human mind, as the product of evolution, and considers the main arguments for and against this claim. In so doing he defends the approaches against some common criticisms, such as the charge that they are reductionist and dehumanising. The implications of these arguments for the social sciences and humanities are assessed, as is the naturalistic view of ethics to which they lead. A key issue examined in the book is the connection between this Darwinist perspective on human beings and modern environmental ethics, which also often assume that human beings are part of an evolved living world. The implications of these positions for the meaningfulness of human life are also examined. Throughout the discussion the positions in sociobiology and environmental ethics developed by Edward O. Wilson are taken as an exemplar of the characteristic features of a Darwinian worldview, and the arguments of Wilson and his chief critics are thoroughly examined.
Charles Darwin has become one of the most important men in history. The quiet, unsure polymath who avoided confrontation, ensconced in his family home at Down House in Kent, was also a revolutionary who developed his idea of Natural Selection in isolation. Cyril Aydon's short biography is considered one of the best introductions to the life and ideas of Darwin.
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