Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

Structure and Contingency: Evolutionary Processes in Life and Human Society

Edited By: J Bintliff

153 pages, Figs, tabs

Leicester University Press

Paperback | Oct 1999 | #134608 | ISBN: 0718500261
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NHBS Price: £39.99 $50/€47 approx

About this book

The theme of this book is the appropriate methodology for the study of the history of life on earth. In particular, it focuses on the interplay between form and structure: the things that we might predict and model and the things that we cannot predict - the arbitrary and the contingent - which may be as important, or even more important, than the way in which life on earth has evolved. The contributors are drawn from palaeontology, archaeology, anthropology and human evolution; the time scales covered are from the development of life on earth, through human evolution to later prehistory and historic archaeology. Underpinning the theme of the book is the work of Stephen Jay Gould, who has developed a distinctive philosophy of history concerning the nature of long-term and short-term evolutionary processes, particularly stressing the interplay between structure and contingency.


Contents

Patterns of evolution - distinguishing the wood from the trees; phanerozoic black deaths; patterns and process in early hominid evolution; the problem of diversity in later hominid evolution; hunting and gathering to farming - cyclic or linear process? structure, contingency and timelessness in the archaeology of historic societies; the redirection of human ecology from the deterministic to the contingent via the chaotic.

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