Revolutionary Biology: The New, Gene-centered View of Life

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9780765809636: Revolutionary Biology: The New, Gene-centered View of Life

There is a revolution underway in biology. It is based on a new perception of bodies and genes, in which the former are the end product of the latter within the continuum of evolution. Twenty five years after Richard Dawkins helped revolutionize our thinking about "selfish genes," it is time to re-evaluate. Revolutionary Biology explains in simple, vivid terms what this exciting approach has to offer, and then applies its stunning insights to human beings. This novel perspective, galvanizes our understanding of how evolution works, what living things are all about and, not least what it means to be human. The controversial disciplines of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology have generated startling insights into longstanding questions concerning the nature and purpose of families, altruism vs. selfishness, and free will vs. biological determinism. Written by one of its foremost figures, Revolutionary Biology is a manifesto and educated layman's guide to this ongoing revolution.

Barash's purpose is to demystify the basic concepts of the genetic revolution and take the reader on a tour--accessible and authoritative--of the principles that underlie this fascinating turn in scientific thought. Much has been written about evolution, animals, and the animal and evolutionary origins of human behavior, yet only recently have biologists begun to appreciate these connections. The key concept is that genes--not species, not groups, and not even individuals--are the apple of evolution's eye. The result has been a major biological paradigm shift that is making itself felt in the social sciences as well. Barash explores the phenomenon of altruism both at the animal level, and the human level.

Barash draws not only on a wealth of biological evidence but on literature, philosophy, and the familiar details of everyday life to communicate the essentials of this increasingly influential approach to the study of the human species. Clearly and engagingly written, Revolutionary Biology will be fascinating reading for those seeking an entry into this new science.

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About the Author:

David P. Barash is professor of psychology and zoology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He has been active in the growth of sociobiology as a scientific discipline. He is the author of more than 170 technical articles and twenty books including Sociobiology and Behavior, Aging: An Exploration, Beloved Enemies: Exploring Our Need for Opponents, Making Sense of Sex: How Genes and Gender Influence Our Relationships (with Judith E. Lipton), and The Mammal in the Mirror: Understanding Our Place in the Natural World (with Ilona A. Barash).).


“A white-fronted bee-eater in east Africa is found helping a bee-eater couple attend to the nestlings. Is this third-party helper evolutionarily favorable because the helper is actually working to conserve its own genetics (if related to the couple) or the genetics of the colony? How do such concepts as altruism, parenting, and social reciprocity fit into evolutionary development of a species, human or otherwise? Barash (psychology, Univ. of Washington at Seattle) discusses these concepts from the viewpoint of genes attempting to conserve themselves... A very readable discourse on the gene-centered view of life. Highly recommended for all levels of readers.” 

—P. R. Douville, Choice

"Barash draws on a diverse array of scientific, medical, philosophical, and literature resources to review how genes may influence entertaining, informative, and provocative resource."

—The Quarterly Review of Biology

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