History Beyond Humanity: Between ‘Big’ and ‘Deep’ History
In place of Big History (too long), Deep History (too short), and such earlier approaches as providential, progressive, deteriorationist, marxist, and sociobiological, Fernández-Armesto proposes the problem of how acquired behaviors change. Study of non-human cultural animals—possible over a period of thirty million years—makes humans’ peculiarity apparent: we are unique not in having culture, but in encompassing more cultural divergence than other creatures. The author argues that imagination is the motor. He attempts a narrative of cultural divergence (with episodes of re-convergence, when sundered cultures established contact and exchange) to disclose the present range of ways of life and thought.