Sunday, January 31, 2016

Additional quotes from "A foot in the river" by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

"There is no reason for God and Darwin to be rival deities--except in the minds clouded by passion"
Chapter 5, The Limits of Evolution
The effort to invoke biology to explain history has failed because it is basically ill conceived. History, to quote a collaboration between an eminent scientist and an eminent historian, is 'too generally messy' for scientific treatment. Societies do not change by transmission and inheritance, but by acquisition and acculturation. History seems unDarwinian precisely because it is a story of the survival of the unfittest. The societies we class as least evolved, least complex, least developed, with fewest parts, last longer--while elaborate civilizations become playgrounds and photo-ops for romancers amid ruins. Culture is just too different from organic life to invite the same kind of explanation. Cells are self-organizing systems that adapt to survive and resist permeation by hostile intrusions from outside. Cultures, by contrast, are built for chaos and as prone to self-destruction as to survival.
Chapter 5, The Limits of Evolution

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