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Evolution in the Here and Now: How Adaptation and Social Learning Explain Humanity

Evolution in the Here and Now: How Adaptation and Social Learning Explain Humanity

by Nigel Barber


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This book argues that the two most influential theories on modern human behavior, cultural determinism and evolutionary psychology, are quite inadequate. Cultural deterministic theories deny personal experience and too often fall prey to anthropocentric bias. Most evolutionary psychologists argue that humans are shaped to fit our ancestral past, effectively freezing us in time. Evolution in the Here and Now looks to new factors like social learning and adaptation to explain the idiosyncrasies of human behavior in a more complete and nuanced way.
Evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber shows that human behavior is uniquely crafted by the surrounding environment in underappreciated and surprising ways. For example, commerce and agriculture can be interpreted as adaptive alternatives to hunting and gathering. Irrigated farming was a response to land scarcity, which ultimately permitted the rise of early cities.
This cross-discliplinary approach unites the missing ingredients that have for so long impeded our understanding of our own species and its variation across cultures. Evolution in the Here and Now is a bold step forward in the evolutionary understanding of human behavior that marries our biology with our history in ways that have never been attempted before.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633886186
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 05/12/2020
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 1,141,559
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Hailing from Ireland, Nigel Barber received his Ph.D. in Biopsychology from Hunter College, CUNY, and taught psychology at Bemidji State University and Birmingham Southern College. A prolific cross-national researcher, Barber accounts for societal differences in sexual and reproductive behavior using an evolutionary approach. Books include Why Parents Matter, The Science of Romance, Kindness in a Cruel World, and The Myth of Culture: Why We Need a Genuine Natural Science of Societies. Interests include finance, organic gardening, and hiking.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii

1 The Vital Alternatives 1

2 Mechanisms of Change 13

3 Evolution as a Developmental Process 45

4 How Different Are Humans, Objectively Speaking? 71

5 The Emergence of Complex Societies 105

6 A Darwinian Take on the Industrial Revolution 133

7 How Humans Adapt to the Modern Environment 183

Notes 239

Index 257

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