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Talking bipedal ape writes book

Steve Stewart-Williams: The ape that understood the universe: how the mind and culture evolve. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, 368pp, £27.95 HB
  • Sean HermansonEmail author
Book Review

About 40 years ago, protestors dumped a pitcher of water on E. O. Wilson’s head along to chants of “You’re all wet!” Despite sometimes hyperbolic accusations, including that Wilson and his ilk sought to promote the notion that human nature is “fascist,” sociobiological ideas have not only survived but have matured into an impressive body of intersecting research agendas now known as evolutionary psychology. Here Stewart-Williams offers a welcome overview of the field as it stands today for a lay audience in highly accessible prose. The book is structured in six chapters with two appendices on Blank Slatism and Memetics—more on these in a moment. The material in the first two chapters covers familiar ground beginning with the “anthropologist from Mars” technique, which helps us view ourselves at arm’s length. Since life for most of our ancestors was “like a camping trip that lasted a lifetime,” the evolutionary context is “central to understanding the animal we are today” (47).



Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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