Stephen Jay Gould and the Politics of Evolution by David F. Prindle

By David F. Prindle

Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould used to be, until eventually his demise in 2002, America's best-known typical scientist. His per 30 days essays in usual heritage journal have been broadly learn by means of either scientists and traditional voters with an curiosity in technological know-how. considered one of his books gained the nationwide booklet Award, and one other used to be a bestseller in 3 nations. thinker Daniel Dennett proclaimed him "America's evolutionist laureate."While many folks have written approximately Gould's technological know-how, professional and con, and some have written approximately his politics, this is often the 1st ebook to discover his technology and politics as a constant entire. Political scientist David F. Prindle argues that Gould's brain labored alongside tracks concurrently --the clinical and the political. All of his thoughts and arguments have been bona fide contributions to technological know-how, yet them all additionally contained in particular political implications. As one instance between many, Prindle cites Gould's debatable argument that if the "tape of evolution" can be rewound after which allowed to unspool back, not anything corresponding to people might most probably evolve. This was once a part of his greater thesis that individuals should not the results of a ordinary tendency towards perfection in evolution, however the results of likelihood, or as Gould placed it, contingency. As Prindle notes, Gould s medical rules frequently sought to assault human hubris, and therefore organize the floor for the political argument that folks may still deal with nature with extra restraint.Prindle evaluates Gould's ideas of punctuated equilibrium (developed with Niles Eldredge), "spandrels", and "exaptation"; his stance on sociobiology, on human inequality and intelligence trying out; his pivotal function within the tradition wars among technological know-how and fundamentalist Christianity; and claims that he was once a closet Marxist, which Prindle disputes. He regularly emphasizes that during most of these debates Gould's technological know-how can't be understood with no an knowing of his politics. He concludes by means of contemplating even if Gould provided a brand new concept of evolution.Anyone with an curiosity in a single of America's nice scientists, or in paleontology, evolutionary idea, or highbrow historical past will locate Stephen Jay Gould and the Politics of Evolution to be a desirable exploration of the guy and his rules.

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Additional resources for Stephen Jay Gould and the Politics of Evolution

Sample text

As Gregson and Selzer demonstrate in their discussion of an essay by eminent evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith (and incidentally, one of Gould's chief critics within the profession), Smith created a conventional, almost stereotypically scientific reader-an objective, fair-minded, sober, impersonal, careful, and reasonable pursuer of scientific truth.... 40 Maynard Smith's rhetorical denial of his own rhetorical purpose was thus a pose. The pose did not make him a bad scientist or a poor writer-in truth, he was a greatly accomplished scientist and a clear writer.

That particular reviewer, however, did not speak for all of them. Just as prevalent among the early internal reviews was this sort of statement: I don't think that Prindle is sufficiently critical of Gould regarding the degree to which Gould's political and social views biased his scientific views.... (On Gould's view that mass extinctions are fundamentally random) his political position was so prevalent in his thinking here that it caused him to abandon rational science.... Gould's affirmation of the ruling concept of chance did not lead him to conclusions about merit and equality.

He was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His 1989 book Wonderful Life became a best-seller in three countries. 9 Until his death at the early age of sixty in 2002, he truly was, as philosopher Daniel Dennett proclaimed him, "America's evolutionist laureate"10 But not all were charmed. While Gould was building a reputation as the evolutionary essayist among the public, he was creating an often intense opposition to his person and his ideas within the academic industry of evolutionary biology.

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