The Splendid Feast of Reason / Edition 1

The Splendid Feast of Reason / Edition 1

by S. Jonathan Singer
     
 

ISBN-10: 0520239113

ISBN-13: 9780520239111

Pub. Date: 05/05/2003

Publisher: University of California Press

Jonathan Singer's witty, erudite book is a celebration of rationality and an urgent call to make use of intelligence and reason to better cope with human problems. Emphasizing the importance of rationality's greatest achievement, modern science, Singer—one of the foremost biologists of our era—argues that for the first time in several million years

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Overview

Jonathan Singer's witty, erudite book is a celebration of rationality and an urgent call to make use of intelligence and reason to better cope with human problems. Emphasizing the importance of rationality's greatest achievement, modern science, Singer—one of the foremost biologists of our era—argues that for the first time in several million years humanity has at its disposal the tools for an objective understanding of the external world. Singer demonstrates that, today more than ever, the fullest exercise of rationality is essential if humanity is to rein in a runaway technology and control an explosion of the human population that together threaten to devastate life on this planet within only a few more generations.

The intrusion of reason and rationality into our largely irrational world has been painfully slow, uneven, and often unwelcome. Singer explains that for rationalists the founding of modern science—which took place only a few hundred years ago—has overthrown many of the myths of conventional wisdom and dogmas of traditional religions. Yet these beliefs still hold sway over the irrational world, obstructing efforts to deal sensibly with the problematic future of mankind.

The core of The Splendid Feast of Reason is an engaging and accessible account of the knowledge that modern science provides. Singer offers an absorbing discussion of how life works, of the nature of reproduction, aging, and death, and of the necessary fragility of the individual life compared to the resilience of life itself. He emphasizes the primary role of the genes in determining the structural organization and the behaviors of living things, including humans. He also stresses the nature and mechanisms of biological evolution, mechanisms that have now been placed in jeopardy because of human ignorance and irrational appetites. Finally, Singer delves into the enigma of the real world with its irrational and chaotic operations and offers suggestions of how a rationalist can not only survive, but thrive in it.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520239111
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
05/05/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
265
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.63(d)

Table of Contents

Prefacexiii
1. Homage to the Square1
2 Making the External World Safe for Humanity: The Roles of
Myth and Religion13
3. Deciphering the Real World21
4. Modern Biology and the Response to Vitalism39
5 Biological Repair and the Realities of Human Life, Aging,
and Death71
6. Behavior and the Genes83
7. Life's Ancient Strategies for Survival105
8. The Future Prospects of Biology119
9. Off with the Old Ideas, On with the New141
10. Our Dual Worlds: The Concept of Complementarity151
11. Rationalists in an Irrational World167
Appendix A. The Structures and Functions of Protein Molecules201
Appendix B. The Genetic Code204
Appendix C. Mitosis (Asexual Reproduction)206
Appendix D.Meiosis (Sexual Reproduction)208
Appendix E. Unequal Crossing-Over211
Appendix F. Minnesota Twin Studies213
Appendix G. Cain and Abel: The Sequel216
Notes221
Index231

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