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The Language of Life: How Communication Drives Human Evolutionby James Lull
Synopses & Reviews
Communication in its most basic form—the sending of signals and exchange of messages within and between organisms—is the heart of evolution. From the earliest life-forms to Homo sapiens, the great chain of communication drives the evolutionary process and is the indispensable component of human culture.
That is the central message of this unique perspective on both the biological evolution of life and the human development of culture. The book explores the totality of communication processes that create and sustain biological equilibrium and social stability. The authors argue that this ubiquitous connectivity is the elemental unity of life.
Introducing a new subdiscipline—evolutionary communication—the authors analyze the core domains of life—sheer survival, sex, culture, morality, religion, and technological change—as communications phenomena. What emerges from their analysis is a brilliant interpretation of life interconnected through communication from the basic molecular level to the most sophisticated manifestations of culture.
Challenging the boundaries of conventional approaches to cultural analysis, this is an original and engaging view of evolution and an encouraging prognosis for our collective future.
"Drawing upon the findings of evolutionary psychology and communications theory, communications studies professors Lull (San Jose State) and Neiva (University of Alabama — Birmingham) argue that the ways humans communicate with one another are strategies for adapting and surviving and hold the key to the future success of the human species as biological and cultural creatures. Evolutionary communication, they argue, is a powerful theoretical perspective that applies to all forms of biological and social interaction. Summarizing the key concepts of Darwin's theory of evolution, the authors explore the role that communication plays in the development of several key human phenomena, including sex, culture, morality, religion, and technological change. With sexual selection, for example, the authors say that artful seduction maximizes the potential to reproduce. The authors end on a high moral note, saying that altruism, for instance, is no longer instinctive but intentional, but it is still adaptive in an evolutionary sense. This illustrates the work's flaw: while sometimes a lively book that serves as a helpful introduction to Darwin, it fails to combine smoothly the random processes that drive biological evolution with the human instincts that drive the goal-oriented activities of communication. Illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
James Lull is a distinguished authority on the impact of mass media, communications technology, and popular culture. The author of twelve books, he has appeared as a commentator on such media outlets as CNN, the BBC, and NPR; has written essays for the Los Angeles Times, the International Herald Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others; and lectures worldwide. He is professor emeritus of communication studies at San Jose State University. Visit the author online at www.JamesLull.com.
Eduardo Neiva is a leading authority on how visual images influence culture. He is the author of two books in English on communication, culture, and images, and many books in Portuguese. He was a Fulbright research scholar at Indiana University in Bloomington and is professor of communication studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
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