Structure and Contingency: Evolutionary Processes in Life and Human Society

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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 so, than the way in which life on earth has evolved.

The contributors are drawn from the disciplines of palaeontology, archaeology, anthropology ...

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Overview

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 so, than the way in which life on earth has evolved.

The contributors are drawn from the disciplines of palaeontology, archaeology, anthropology and human evolution; the timescales 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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780718500252
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Pages: 224

Table of Contents

Contributors
Preface
Introduction: The scales of contingency and punctuation in history
1 Selection and the fossil record 1
2 Evolution and environmental controls: Palaeozoic Black Deaths 14
3 Pattern and process in hominid evolution 31
4 Contingency, patterning and species in hominid evolution 43
5 The human evolutionary time-scale and the transition between hunting and gathering, and farming 102
6 History, ecology, contingency, sustainability 118
7 Structure, contingency, narrative and timelessness 132
Index 149
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