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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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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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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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Torben Grodal

, and Sacred Symbols: The Evolution of Religion as an Adaptive Complex .” Human Nature 16 ( 4 ): 323 – 359 . Andrade , Eduardo , and Joel Cohen . 2007 . “ On the Consumption of Negative Feelings .” Journal of Consumer Research 34 ( 3

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Gilberto Conde

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 explained, it is quite

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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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Yadin Dudai

This article proposes that a major drive in the fast evolution of cinema is that film uniquely fits, exploits and expands the potential of a specialized cognitive machinery in the human brain. This is working memory (WM), a limited capacity processing system that temporarily holds and processes on-line and off-line information under attentional control during the planning and execution of a task. A dominant model of WM depicts multiple components, including a central executive, subordinate workspaces for spatio-visual information and for sound and language, and an episodic buffer that binds episodes on the go and is capable of sorting them into long-term memory. The distinct generic attributes of film and their relevance to the subcomponents and operation of WM in the spectator are described. It is proposed that in watching a movie, WM operates in a special mode, dubbed the representation-of-representation (ROR) mode, in which normal motor response to reality is suppressed. It is further proposed that under proper contextual settings and mind set, the central executive of the spectator relinquishes control to the film information, culminating in a transient rewarding dissociative state. The usefulness of the model is discussed in the framework of the newly emerging discipline of neurocinematics. In evolutionary context, the interaction of film and brain is bidirectional. Film in its broadest sense is an extra-corporeal audiovisual space that allows the human brain to perform detailed past and future mental time travel which, unlike WM and human memory in general, has unlimited capacity, variability and endurance. This augments the original phylogenetic advantage that had probably led to the emergence of episodic memory in the first place.

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Different Species, One Theory

Reflections on Anthropomorphism and Anthropological Comparison

Matei Candea

This article compares recent anthropological accounts of animist and perspectivist ontologies with evolutionary explanations of animal behaviour in contemporary behavioural ecology. It argues that some unexpected echoes between these two very different ways of encountering non-humans raise a set of fascinating issues both ethnographic and theoretical. On the ethnographic side, thinking of behavioural ecology as akin to a 'naturalist perspectivism' illuminates some of the complex ways in which the discipline deals with worries about anthropomorphic projection. On the theoretical side, the comparison raises some questions about the ease with which us/them contrasts associated with the recent 'ontological turn' in anthropology find themselves echoing contrasts internal to Western philosophical and scientific debate. The resulting problem of mirroring (the concern that 'others' may be called upon to play the role of an anti-'us', rather than encountered on their own terms) is in turn considered as an analogue of the scientific problem of 'anthropomorphism', and some potential responses to both are considered.

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Carles Salazar

Recent cognitive and evolutionary approaches to the study of religion have been seen by many as a naturalistic alternative to conventional anthropological interpretations. Whereas anthropologists have traditionally accounted for the existence of religion in terms of social and cultural determinants, cognitive scientists have emphasized the innate—that is pre-cultural—constraints placed by natural selection on the formation and acquisition of religious ideas. This article provides a critical assessment of the main theoretical proposals put forward by cognitive scientists and suggests possible interactions, perhaps interdependencies, with more standard anthropological sensibilities, especially between cognitive and evolutionary perspectives that see religion as a by-product of innate psychological dispositions and anthropological approaches that take the 'meaningful' nature of religious symbols as their point of departure.