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The Mathematics of Evolution

Dreaming about Four Dimensions with Edwin A. Abbott and May Kendall

Wolfgang Funk

This article links the rise of non-Euclidean geometry with the ascent of theories of evolution in the second half of the nineteenth century, and argues that the upsurge of speculations on higher dimensional space figures as a corollary of the pre-eminence of Darwinian ideas in the late Victorian imaginary. It first provides a short sketch of the development of thinking in higher dimensions from Plato's 'allegory of the cave' to the late Victorian popularisation of the subject in the works of Charles Hinton and H.G. Wells. On this basis, it goes on to examine two literary texts from the 1880s, Edwin A. Abbott's novel Flatland and May Kendall's poem 'A Pure Hypothesis'. Both texts are premised on the assumption that there are different versions of the world with different numbers of spatial dimensions, and that through the faculty of dreaming it is possible to transcend the boundaries between these worlds. This article shows how both texts use this central conceit to pose serious questions about contemporary class hierarchies as well as the ethical implications of scientific progress.

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David E. Long

In an ethnographic study set within a biology department of a public university in the United States, incongruity between the ideals and practice of science education are investigated. Against the background of religious conservative students' complaints about evolution in the curriculum, biology faculty describe their political intents for fostering science literacy. This article examines differences that emerge between the department's rhetorical commitment to improve science understanding amongst their students and the realities of course staffing and anxieties about promotion and tenure. Because tenure-track faculty are motivated to focus their careers on research productivity and teaching biology majors, other biology courses are staffed with adjunct instructors who are less equipped to negotiate complex pedagogies of science and religion. In practice, faculty avoid risky conversations about evolution versus creationism with religiously conservative students. I argue that such faculty are complicit, through their silence, in failing to equip their students with the science literacy which their own profession avows is crucial for a well-informed citizenry in a democracy.

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Daniel P. Ritter

Responding to the debate that was carried on in recent issues of this journal, this article argues that the era of revolutions is not by any means over, but that an “evolution of revolution” has occurred over the past few decades that has fundamentally transformed what revolutions are. This development forces us to rethink how we approach revolutions as sociological phenomena. Instead of employing strict definitions that make sharp distinctions between revolutions and nonrevolutions, we are better served by more inclusive approaches to revolutionary change. The article outlines some of the ways in which revolutions have evolved and how we might go about understanding them.

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Torben Grodal

Book Review of Brian Boyd, Joseph Carroll, and Jonathan Gottschall, eds. Evolution, Literature and Film: A Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010)

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Jeffrey M. Zacks

This article is a précis of the book Flicker: Your Brain on Movies (Zacks 2014). Flicker aims to introduce a broad readership to the psychology and neuroscience that underlies their experience in the movie theater. The book covers a range of topics, including emotional experience, adaptation from texts to films, memory and propaganda, movie violence, film editing, and brain stimulation. Cutting across the specific topics are a few broad themes: the evolution of the brain and mind, the role of automatically evoked responses in film viewing, and the role of behavioral and neural plasticity in everyday experience.

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Keith Alexander

stigmatized, groups that still embrace violence become marginalized. Because their needs will not be communicated within the political system, a new escalation of violence may result. 135 Much more also remains to be learned about the evolution of the Left

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Gilberto Conde

demonstrations in the early months of 2011 rarely voiced religiously oriented slogans. Many early enthusiasts of the protests became skeptical of this evolution and stopped supporting the democratic transition in Arab countries. However, as Achcar (2013) has

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Menno W. Straatsma and Reinier J.W. de Nooij

Integrated river management is heralded as the new style of river management, but it has been preceded by a number of previous styles, and is unlikely to be the last. This article presents the first analysis of the evolution of river management using Spiral Dynamics (SD). SD provides a growth hierarchy of value systems (vMemes), reflecting increasing complexity and inclusiveness ranging from instinctive to holistic. Based on an interpretation of literature and policy documents, we conclude that (1) SD provides a broad interpretative framework that can be applied in all river basins, (2) river management in the Netherlands shows the subsequent dominance of the blue, orange, and green vMeme, yellow is at the take-off phase, (3) further transition to yellow integrated river management requires identification of barriers to change. We give an overview and policy implications. Further research should be oriented towards quantification of vMemes in stakeholders and landscaping measures.

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Paul Mclaughlin

Three decades after Catton and Dunlap's (1978, 1980) pioneering work, the promise and potential of environmental sociology remain unrealized. Despite the proliferation of theoretical frameworks and empirical foci, a "new ecological paradigm" capable of theorizing the interactions between social structures, human agency, and biophysical environments has yet to emerge. I explore this impasse by tracing the parallels between the Darwinian revolution and recent shifts in metatheoretical assumptions within environmental and mainstream sociology and related disciplines. These parallels suggest that the social sciences are in the midst of a second Darwinian revolution. A fuller appreciation of this intellectual convergence can provide the first steps toward a new evolutionary environmental sociology.

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The Evolution of the Welfare State

Social Rights and the Nationalization of Welfare in France, 1800-1947

Kristen Stromberg Childers

Timothy B. Smith, Creating the Welfare State in France, 1880-1940 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003).

Janet R. Horne, A Social Laboratory for Modern France: The Musée Social and the Rise of the Welfare State (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2002).

Paul V. Dutton, Origins of the French Welfare State: The Struggle for Social Reform in France, 1914-1947 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).