Cover of: The Structure of Evolutionary Theory | Stephen Jay Gould

About the Book

The world's most revered and eloquent interpreter of evolutionary ideas offers here a work of explanatory force unprecedented in our time--a landmark publication, both for its historical sweep and for its scientific vision. With characteristic attention to detail, Stephen Jay Gould first describes the content and discusses the history and origins of the three core commitments of classical Darwinism: that natural selection works on organisms, not genes or species; that it is almost exclusively the mechanism of adaptive evolutionary change; and that these changes are incremental, not drastic. Next, he examines the three critiques that currently challenge this classic Darwinian edifice: that selection operates on multiple levels, from the gene to the group; that evolution proceeds by a variety of mechanisms, not just natural selection; and that causes operating at broader scales, including catastrophes, have figured prominently in the course of evolution. Then, in a stunning tour de force that will likely stimulate discussion and debate for decades, Gould proposes his own system for integrating these classical commitments and contemporary critiques into a new structure of evolutionary thought. In 2001 the Library of Congress named Stephen Jay Gould one of America's eighty-three Living Legends--people who embody the "quintessentially American ideal of individual creativity, conviction, dedication, and exuberance." Each of these qualities finds full expression in this peerless work, the likes of which the scientific world has not seen--and may not see again--for well over a century. Stephen Jay Gould is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University and Vincent Astor Visiting Professor of Biology at New York University. A MacArthur Prize Fellow, he has received innumerable honors and awards and has written many books, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny and Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle (both from Harvard).

Table of Contents

Brief Contents 5
Expanded Contents 6
Chapter 1 Defining and Revising the Structure of Evolutionary Theory 20
PART I The History of Darwinian Logic and Debate 110
Chapter 2 The Essence of Darwinism and the Basis of Modern Orthodoxy: An Exegesis of the Origin of Species 112
Chapter 3 Seeds of Hierarchy 189
Chapter 4 Internalism and Laws of Form: Pre-Darwinian Alternatives to Functionalism 270
Chapter 5 The Fruitful Facets of Galton's Polyhedron: Channels and Saltations in Post-Darwinian Formalism 361
Chapter 6 Pattern and Progress on the Geological Stage 486
Chapter 7 The Modern Synthesis as a Limited Consensus 522
Part II Towards a Revised and Expanded Evolutionary Theory 612
Chapter 8 Species as Individuals in the Hierarchical Theory of Selection 614
Chapter 9 Punctuated Equilibrium and the Validation of Macroevolutionary Theory 764
Chapter 10 The Integration of Constraint and Adaptation (Structure and Function) in Ontogeny and Phylogeny: Historical Constraints and the Evolution of Development 1044
Chapter 11 The Integration of Constraint and Adaptation (Structure and Function) in Ontogeny and Phylogeny: Structural Constraints, Spandrels, and the Centrality of Exaptation in Macroevolution 1198
Chapter 12 Tiers of Time and Trials of Extrapolationism, With an Epilog on the Interaction of General Theory and Contingent History 1315
Bibliography 1363
Illustration Credits 1407
Index 1412

The Physical Object

Number of pages
10.2 x 6.7 x 2.7 inches
5.1 pounds

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