A Foot in the River: Why Our Lives Change - and the Limits of Evolution

Hardcover | September 23, 2015

byFelipe Fernandez-armesto

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We are a weird species. Like other species, we have a culture. But by comparison with other species, we are strangely unstable: human cultures self-transform, diverge, and multiply with bewildering speed. They vary, radically and rapidly, from time to time and place to place. And the way welive - our manners, morals, habits, experiences, relationships, technology, values - seems to be changing at an ever accelerating pace. The effects can be dislocating, baffling, sometimes terrifying. Why is this?In A Foot in the River, best-selling historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto sifts through the evidence and offers some radical answers to these very big questions about the human species and its history - and speculates on what these answers might mean for our future. Combining insights from a hugerange of disciplines, including history, biology, anthropology, archaeology, philosophy, sociology, ethology, zoology, primatology, psychology, linguistics, the cognitive sciences, and even business studies, he argues that culture is exempt from evolution. Ultimately, no environmental conditions, nogenetic legacy, no predictable patterns, no scientific laws determine our behaviour. We can consequently make and remake our world in the freedom of unconstrained imaginations. A revolutionary book which challenges scientistic assumptions about culture and how and why cultural change happens, A Foot in the River comes to conclusions which readers may well find by turns both daunting and also potentially hugely liberating.

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From the Publisher

We are a weird species. Like other species, we have a culture. But by comparison with other species, we are strangely unstable: human cultures self-transform, diverge, and multiply with bewildering speed. They vary, radically and rapidly, from time to time and place to place. And the way welive - our manners, morals, habits, experience...

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is the William P. Reynolds Professor of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame. His work has been recognized as pioneering across a very wide range of fields, including global history, environmental history, colonial history, maritime history, religious history, art history, the history of ideas, Med...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.1 inPublished:September 23, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198744420

ISBN - 13:9780198744429

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Weird Planet1. Challenging Change2. The Frustration of Science3. The Great Re-Convergence4. The Chimpanzees' Tea Party5. The Limits of Evolution6. The Imaginative Animal7. Facing Acceleration8. Towards the Planet of the ApesAfterword: In the Vatican GardenNotesIndex