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Unity of Knowledge: The Convergence of Natural and Human Science (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences) [Hardcover]

Antonio R. Damasio , Anne Harrington , Jerome Kagan , Bruce S. McEwen , Henry Moss
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June 2001 1573313106 978-1573313100

Scientists are rapidly mapping the chemical and physical pathways that constitute biological systems, making the complexity of processes such as inheritance, development, evolution, and even the origin of life increasingly tractable. Through genetics and neuroscience, biological understanding is now being extended deeply into the human sciences and has begun to transform our understanding of behavior, mind, culture, and values. The idea of a science-driven unity of knowledge has reemerged in several forms in both reductionist and nonreductionist frameworks. This volume examines some of the extraordinary empirical discoveries that have caused a revival of this idea and presents theories from thinkers in a variety of disciplines, including E. O. Wilson, Eric Kandel, and Elaine Scarry.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
  • Hardcover: 289 pages
  • Publisher: New York Academy of Sciences (June 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573313106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573313100
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,474,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Varied and productive exchange of ideas December 10, 2003
By majorka
Format:Paperback
This book follows the contents of a cross-disciplinary conference held at the NY Acadamy of sciences. It starts off with a keynote by E.O.Wilson, on his concept of consilience, which could have signalled sending the event straight in the direction of hardline sociobiology.
But the most interesting thing about this book is that it dares to reject both the hardline reductionist views AND the hardline social constructionists, and seriously discuss the are in between these extremes, with participants who come from BOTH "bottom-up" and "top-down" types of scientific disciplines.
It's obviously important to point out factual errors in scientific texts, but I for one has not been too pleased about the hardline stance of the likes of Gross&Levitt, largely because it can serve to prevent necessary respectful dialogue across the nature/nurture divide. The "unity" question is far from solved, although, as one co-author also states, most individual disciplines believe they have solved it. One of the great strengths of this piece of work is that it discusses several of these existing models in parallell.
This book is not an easy read, although it discusses the topics at a very high level of abstraction and avoids the techincal details studied by the specialists of the individual fields, but it is really fascinating and well worth the effort. There are sometimes surprising matches, but also surprising mismatches, in the actual research results arrived at through natural science and social science based approaches. This is exactly the kind of broadening of our horizons which I associate all good science with, and this text does address all scientists. I warmly recommend it to everyone who is interested in science, both social and natural.
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