Synopses & Reviews
and#160;What do we think about when we think about human evolution? With his characteristic wit and wisdom, anthropologist Jonathan Marks explores our scientific narrative of human originsandmdash;the study of evolutionandmdash;and examines its cultural elements and theoretical foundations. In the process, he situates human evolution within a general anthropological framework and presents it as a special case of kinship and mythology.
Tales of the Ex-Apes argues that human evolution has incorporated the emergence of social relations and cultural histories that are unprecedented in the apes and thus cannot be reduced to purely biological properties and processes. Marks shows that human evolution has involved the transformation from biological to biocultural evolution. Over tens of thousands of years, new social rolesandmdash;notably spouse, father, in-laws, and grandparentsandmdash;have co-evolved with new technologies and symbolic meanings to produce the human species, in the absence of significant biological evolution. We are biocultural creatures, Marks argues, fully comprehensible by recourse to neither our real ape ancestry nor our imaginary cultureless biology.
andquot;In this truly excellent book that simply brims with scholarship, Marks convincingly showsandmdash;clearly, pithyly, wittilyandmdash;why scientific reductionism is a tool, not an explanation. DNA is not a blueprint, and we have a long way to go before we truly understand how genes and environments combine to make us what we are today.andquot;andmdash;Robert Martin, Curator Emeritus at The Field Museum, Professor at the University of Chicago, and author of How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction
andquot;Within the field of biological anthropology, there is no one who is able to contextualize scientific information like Jon Marks. Only Marks is able to successfully take evolutionary and#39;factsand#39; and situate them within the broader spheres of history, science, philosophy, and the humanities.andquot;andmdash;Libby Cowgill, University of Missouri
About the Author
is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the author of What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee
and Why I Am Not a Scientist
, both from UC Press.