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A Foot in the River

Why Our Lives Change - and the Limits of Evolution

Format: Hardback
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom
Published: 8th Oct 2015
Dimensions: w 152mm h 223mm d 23mm
Weight: 488g
ISBN-10: 0198744420
ISBN-13: 9780198744429
Barcode No: 9780198744429
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 we live - 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 huge range 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, no genetic 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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This is a stimulating and wide-ranging read. * Network Review * Full of important insights into change and human history ... a powerful counter blast to those contemporary thinkers who think that evolution can explain just about everything. * Paul Richardson, Church of England Newspaper * everyone interested in the human animal and the concept of culture ought to read it. * Wall Street Journal * A mix of wide and deep learning and rigorous argument, beautifully written ... [a] delightful and indispensable book. * John Gray, Literary Review *