A well-known primatologist, Alison Jolly, offers her spirited, intelligent, and often humorous take on human evolution, chronicling the long line of women and female behavior that followed the much-studied oldest human remains, that of Lucy. Her book provokes readers to think deeply and clearly about their place in nature--their origins, primacy ...
A well-known primatologist, Alison Jolly, offers her spirited, intelligent, and often humorous take on human evolution, chronicling the long line of women and female behavior that followed the much-studied oldest human remains, that of Lucy. Her book provokes readers to think deeply and clearly about their place in nature--their origins, primacy on the planet, and even where humans may be heading as a species. Illustrations.
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Publishers Weekly, 1999-10-25 Princeton primatologist Jolly brings good news from prehistory and delivers it with style. Neither evolutionary theory nor sociobiology, as popularly understood, flatter humanity. Evolution paints a grim picture of survival of the fittest, and sociobiology has more than a few sexist implications. Jolly argues that human development is not the story of battle after battle to determine survival of the fittest. Instead, she portrays evolution as a story of ever-increasing cooperation. Not that she doesn't take into account the myriad ways in which nature, including human nature, is red in tooth and claw. She does, but she also insists that "[t]he fascination of sociobology is not [in the] repugnant actions that it can explain," but "in understanding how loving families and supportive communities could grow from such unpromising ground." Jolly considers neo-Darwinian explanations of human feelings and decisions, from white lies to charitable giving to abortions. As she moves from discussions of human culture (from sex-testing of female Olympic athletes to Freud's ideas about sexual development) to her own research among the lemurs of Madagascar, Jolly proves an illuminating guide to the complex intersection of nature and nurture. In the second half of the book, she first examines different primate societies before moving on to a discussion of how human individuals and communities develop, including the evolution of gender, tool use, abstraction, imagination and cooperation. In this accessible, comprehensive and thought-provoking work, Jolly also adduces surprising texts from the humanities, among them poems in translation from French, Chinese and Yoruba. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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