Industrial Deals HPC Best Books of the Month Introducing Prime Wardrobe nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Unlimited Music. Made for you. Learn more. GNO for Samsung S9 Starting at $39.99 Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Home Gift Guide Mother's Day gifts across Amazon Home Gift Guide Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon westworldS2 westworldS2 westworldS2  Echo Dot Fire tablets: Designed for entertainment Kindle Paperwhite AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop now SWMTVT18_gno

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
14
Ontogeny and Phylogeny
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$41.20+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on October 11, 2014
One of the best of Dr. Gould's books, and there are many. Good science very well explained.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on January 28, 2013
Excellent copy and shipped fast. This is one of the books that I have been waiting to read. clean book.
11 comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 30, 2009
The book purchased was a used copy of Stephen Gould's "Ontogeny and Phylogeny" in paperback. The book was no surprise since I knew what it was. Condition was as advertised, I think, but was excellent at any rate. Delivery was within a reasonable time. So this was a very satisfactory transaction from my point of view, excellent book for a reasonable price within a sensible time period. What else to expect?
11 comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) wrote many other important books, such as The Structure of Evolutionary Theory,The Panda's Thumb,Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes,The Flamingo's Smile,Bully for Brontosaurus,Eight Little Piggies,Dinosaur in a Haystack,Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms,I Have Landed: Ultimate Reflections in Natural History, etc.

He wrote in the “Acknowledgements” section of this 1977 book, “I view this book as an organism. I have lived with it for six years… Ernst Mayr, in a passing comment, suggested that I write this book. I only began it as a practice run to learn the style of lengthy exposition before embarking on my magnum opus about macroevolution. And I’m mighty glad I did because, in the meantime, my views on macroevolution have changed drastically and my original plan, had it been executed, would now be an embarrassment to me.” (Pg. vii-viii)

He outlines in the first chapter, “I began this book as an indulgent, antiquarian exercise in personal interest. I hoped, at best, to retrieve from its current limbo the ancient subject of parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny… But I soon decided that the subject needs no apology. Properly restructured, it stands as a central theme in evolutionary biology because it illuminates two issues of great contemporary importance: the evolution of ecological strategies and the biology of recapitulation… this book is primarily a long argument for the evolutionary importance of ‘heterochrony’---changes in the relative time of appearance and rate of development for characters already present in ancestors… This book emphasizes … the changes in developmental timing that produce parallels between the stages of ontogeny and phylogeny.” (Pg. 2) He adds, “Another motive for writing the book is my belief that the history of recapitulation illustrates some generalities about science that will surprise no historian but prove interesting to many scientists… Recapitulation was largely impervious to empirical disproof by accumulated exceptions. It fell when it became unfashionable in practice, following the rise of experimental embryology, and untenable in theory, following scientific change in … Mendelian genetics.” (Pg. 6)

He explains, “I wish to emphasize one other distinction. Evolution occurs when ontogeny is altered in one of two ways: when new characters are introduced at any stage of development with varying effects upon subsequent stages, or when characters already present undergo changes in developmental timing.” (Pg. 4) He goes on, “‘Neoteny’ … represents the retardation of somatic development for selected organs and parts… Neoteny has been a (probably THE) major determinant of human evolution… Human development has slowed down. Within this ‘matrix of retardation,’ adaptive features of ancestral juveniles are easily retained. Retardation as a life-history strategy for longer learning and socialization may be far more important in human evolution than any of its morphological consequences.” (Pg. 9)

He suggests, “Recapitulation, in altered form, might have survived the collapse of terminal addition had it been able to retain a law of condensation. Recapitulationists … could still have maintained that new characters, wherever they arise, are always transferred back to appear earlier in descendant ontogenies. Ancestral features would always appear in more juvenile stages of descendants. This last hope for universal recapitulation was dashed by the discovery that genes act by controlling the RATES of processes.” (Pg. 204-205) He summarizes, “But recapitulation was not ‘disproved’; … It was, instead, abandoned as a universal proposition and displayed as but one possible result of a more general process---evolutionary alteration of times and rates to produce acceleration and retardation in the ontogenetic development of specific characters… I shall devote the rest of this book to exploring the consequences of this generalization.” (Pg. 206)

He observes, “The notion of a parallel has been among the most important themes in the history of biology since Aristotle’s time… I have a faith that the most formidable intellects of the past cannot have been so deluded that they persistently centered their discussion on a trivial part of a larger subject. I will therefore assume that it is still important to discuss what constitutes a parallel between the stages of ontogeny and phylogeny, and to distinguish between the processes producing such parallels from other relationships between embryology and evolution.” (Pg. 212-213)

He outlines, “I shall be emphasizing the immediate significance of heterochrony throughout the rest of this book, primarily because it has been so widely ignored. In so doing, I am neither attacking traditional arguments… nor trying to undermine the concept of retrospective significance in general. In fact, my ulterior motive as a paleontologist is to prove the importance of my profession by demonstrating that the study of macroevolution, with its emphasis on retrospective significance, cannot be subsumed in the study of living populations, with its necessary concern for immediate significance alone.” (Pg. 286) Later, he adds, “Since heterochrony can arise rapidly and ‘easily’ by an alteration in endocrine balance, it seems reasonable to consider even large paedomorphic changes in terms of their immediate significance for evolution of life-history strategies in differing ecological circumstances.” (Pg. 302)

After showing a photograph illustrating that baby chimpanzees are much more “manlike” than adult chimps, he comments, “The resemblance of adult humans to juvenile apes was treated as an anomaly throughout the heyday of recapitulation. But single ugly facts… do not destroy great theories… E.D. Cope considered the problem in great detail and admitted that many human features had evolved by retardation. But he quickly added that these retarded features were not involved in our superiority, and that the progressive features of our mental development displayed acceleration and recapitulation.” (Pg. 355) He adds, “The structural sequence of Australopithecus africanus, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens exhibits a progressive retention of juvenile proportions by adults as the brain increases and the jaw decreases. Moreover, the juveniles of Taung and Modjokerto prophesy, so to speak, the proportions later attained by descendant adults; no reference to the idealized juvenile form of a hypothetical ancestor is needed.” (Pg. 358)

He notes, “What juvenile among living primates is most similar in form to the young stages of our forebears? The answer must be: our own juvenile form itself… If we choose a sufficiently early stage, the fetus of practically any higher primate (human and chimp included) can serve as a reasonable prototype… We might as well use the juvenile stage of each species as its own prototype and judge our relative paedomorphosis by the following criterion: do we as adults depart less from our own early form than other higher primates do from theirs.” (Pg. 387-388)

He concludes, “Throughout this book, I have tried to demonstrate that heterochrony is extremely important in evolution---both in frequency of occurrence and as the basis of significant evolutionary change. I hope that I have added thereby some support for the belief that alterations in regulation form the major stuff of evolutionary change. The reconciliation of our gradualistic bias with the appearance of discontinuity is a classical problem of intellectual history… External discontinuity may well be inherent in underlying continuity, provided that a system displays enough complexity. The evolution of consciousness can scarcely be matched as a momentous event in the history of life; yet I doubt that its efficient cause required much more than a heterochronic extension of fetal growth rates and patterns of cell proliferation… permutation of the old within complex systems can do wonders. As biologists, we deal directly with the kind of material complexity that confers and unbounded potential upon simple, continuous changes in underlying processes. This is the chief joy of our science.” (Pg. 409)

Besides being a highly creative evolutionary theorist, Gould was also a brilliant writer and an engaged "public intellectual." His presence is sorely missed on the scientific and literary scene.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) wrote many other important books, such as The Structure of Evolutionary Theory,The Panda's Thumb,Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes,The Flamingo's Smile,Bully for Brontosaurus,Eight Little Piggies,Dinosaur in a Haystack,Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms,I Have Landed: Ultimate Reflections in Natural History, etc.

[NOTE: page numbers refer to the 501-page 1977 paperback edition.]

He wrote in the “Acknowledgements” section of this 1977 book, “I view this book as an organism. I have lived with it for six years… Ernst Mayr, in a passing comment, suggested that I write this book. I only began it as a practice run to learn the style of lengthy exposition before embarking on my magnum opus about macroevolution. And I’m mighty glad I did because, in the meantime, my views on macroevolution have changed drastically and my original plan, had it been executed, would now be an embarrassment to me.” (Pg. vii-viii)

He outlines in the first chapter, “I began this book as an indulgent, antiquarian exercise in personal interest. I hoped, at best, to retrieve from its current limbo the ancient subject of parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny… But I soon decided that the subject needs no apology. Properly restructured, it stands as a central theme in evolutionary biology because it illuminates two issues of great contemporary importance: the evolution of ecological strategies and the biology of recapitulation… this book is primarily a long argument for the evolutionary importance of ‘heterochrony’---changes in the relative time of appearance and rate of development for characters already present in ancestors… This book emphasizes … the changes in developmental timing that produce parallels between the stages of ontogeny and phylogeny.” (Pg. 2) He adds, “Another motive for writing the book is my belief that the history of recapitulation illustrates some generalities about science that will surprise no historian but prove interesting to many scientists… Recapitulation was largely impervious to empirical disproof by accumulated exceptions. It fell when it became unfashionable in practice, following the rise of experimental embryology, and untenable in theory, following scientific change in … Mendelian genetics.” (Pg. 6)

He explains, “I wish to emphasize one other distinction. Evolution occurs when ontogeny is altered in one of two ways: when new characters are introduced at any stage of development with varying effects upon subsequent stages, or when characters already present undergo changes in developmental timing.” (Pg. 4) He goes on, “‘Neoteny’ … represents the retardation of somatic development for selected organs and parts… Neoteny has been a (probably THE) major determinant of human evolution… Human development has slowed down. Within this ‘matrix of retardation,’ adaptive features of ancestral juveniles are easily retained. Retardation as a life-history strategy for longer learning and socialization may be far more important in human evolution than any of its morphological consequences.” (Pg. 9)

He suggests, “Recapitulation, in altered form, might have survived the collapse of terminal addition had it been able to retain a law of condensation. Recapitulationists … could still have maintained that new characters, wherever they arise, are always transferred back to appear earlier in descendant ontogenies. Ancestral features would always appear in more juvenile stages of descendants. This last hope for universal recapitulation was dashed by the discovery that genes act by controlling the RATES of processes.” (Pg. 204-205) He summarizes, “But recapitulation was not ‘disproved’; … It was, instead, abandoned as a universal proposition and displayed as but one possible result of a more general process---evolutionary alteration of times and rates to produce acceleration and retardation in the ontogenetic development of specific characters… I shall devote the rest of this book to exploring the consequences of this generalization.” (Pg. 206)

He observes, “The notion of a parallel has been among the most important themes in the history of biology since Aristotle’s time… I have a faith that the most formidable intellects of the past cannot have been so deluded that they persistently centered their discussion on a trivial part of a larger subject. I will therefore assume that it is still important to discuss what constitutes a parallel between the stages of ontogeny and phylogeny, and to distinguish between the processes producing such parallels from other relationships between embryology and evolution.” (Pg. 212-213)

He outlines, “I shall be emphasizing the immediate significance of heterochrony throughout the rest of this book, primarily because it has been so widely ignored. In so doing, I am neither attacking traditional arguments… nor trying to undermine the concept of retrospective significance in general. In fact, my ulterior motive as a paleontologist is to prove the importance of my profession by demonstrating that the study of macroevolution, with its emphasis on retrospective significance, cannot be subsumed in the study of living populations, with its necessary concern for immediate significance alone.” (Pg. 286) Later, he adds, “Since heterochrony can arise rapidly and ‘easily’ by an alteration in endocrine balance, it seems reasonable to consider even large paedomorphic changes in terms of their immediate significance for evolution of life-history strategies in differing ecological circumstances.” (Pg. 302)

After showing a photograph illustrating that baby chimpanzees are much more “manlike” than adult chimps, he comments, “The resemblance of adult humans to juvenile apes was treated as an anomaly throughout the heyday of recapitulation. But single ugly facts… do not destroy great theories… E.D. Cope considered the problem in great detail and admitted that many human features had evolved by retardation. But he quickly added that these retarded features were not involved in our superiority, and that the progressive features of our mental development displayed acceleration and recapitulation.” (Pg. 355) He adds, “The structural sequence of Australopithecus africanus, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens exhibits a progressive retention of juvenile proportions by adults as the brain increases and the jaw decreases. Moreover, the juveniles of Taung and Modjokerto prophesy, so to speak, the proportions later attained by descendant adults; no reference to the idealized juvenile form of a hypothetical ancestor is needed.” (Pg. 358)

He notes, “What juvenile among living primates is most similar in form to the young stages of our forebears? The answer must be: our own juvenile form itself… If we choose a sufficiently early stage, the fetus of practically any higher primate (human and chimp included) can serve as a reasonable prototype… We might as well use the juvenile stage of each species as its own prototype and judge our relative paedomorphosis by the following criterion: do we as adults depart less from our own early form than other higher primates do from theirs.” (Pg. 387-388)

He concludes, “Throughout this book, I have tried to demonstrate that heterochrony is extremely important in evolution---both in frequency of occurrence and as the basis of significant evolutionary change. I hope that I have added thereby some support for the belief that alterations in regulation form the major stuff of evolutionary change. The reconciliation of our gradualistic bias with the appearance of discontinuity is a classical problem of intellectual history… External discontinuity may well be inherent in underlying continuity, provided that a system displays enough complexity. The evolution of consciousness can scarcely be matched as a momentous event in the history of life; yet I doubt that its efficient cause required much more than a heterochronic extension of fetal growth rates and patterns of cell proliferation… permutation of the old within complex systems can do wonders. As biologists, we deal directly with the kind of material complexity that confers and unbounded potential upon simple, continuous changes in underlying processes. This is the chief joy of our science.” (Pg. 409)

Besides being a highly creative evolutionary theorist, Gould was also a brilliant writer and an engaged "public intellectual." His presence is sorely missed on the scientific and literary scene.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on June 28, 2001
Stephen Jay Gould's brilliance is evident as always in his ability to make the esoterics of great science available to people who have not thoroughly studied his field. He doesn't dumb it down, nor remove such huge slices that we are fools walking that dangerous tightrope of a little knowledge. Equal evidence of his genius is his broad base of real knowledge. He knows linguistics, for example; he would recognize that he does not know as much as Noam Chomsky, but he knows a great deal more than the typical lay person.
He uses this knowledge at the beginning of this book to construct a carnival of phrenology and psychoanalysis that gives a social context to his later discussion of ontogeny and phylogeny. Looking at the subject of the title outside of this context would make a reader feel awfully disconnected from the people who believed this. It helps to rememeber that history is the story of a species and its learning process.
One hundred years from now, people may know things that make them skake their heads at our use of protease inhibitors in treating AIDS, CD-ROM's in computer operations, or at the fact that only autistic kids, and not even all of them used weighted vests to develope proprioceptive skills.
The book made me feel superior, and at the same time humbled. No single person is capable of what our species can do as a whole.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 3, 2001
This is one of the three most influential books I've read in the last 20 years.
"The world was a better place when I was young," "Kids today are worse than they were 20 years ago," are two of the more egregious examples I hear of people confusing ontogeny (development of an individual) with phylogeny (development of a type or collective). The world has always been a complicated and widely mixed placed. It is far more likely for an individual's perceptions to change in the course of a lifetime than the world that we perceive.
Gould's essays (and books collecting them) are pleasant bits of fluff that entertainingly (and sneakily) deliver well-informed and timely bits of science. "Ontogeny and Philogeny" goes the next level down, using interesting bits of (mostly) science to deliver well-informed and timely bits of philosophy.
I bought this book because I was curious about the relationship between ontogeny and philogeny. "Does ontogeny recapitulate phylogeny?" was on my mind. No, says Gould. Better, he describes what that relationship is. Along the way, he explains how humans are differentiated from other species (a topic well expanded by Jared Diamond in "The Third Chimpanzee").
Gould starts with the history of science (Lamarck, Ernst Haeckel); philosophy (Anaximander, Aristotle); and psychology (Cesare Lombroso; Freud). He starts by showing the history of the perceived relationship between phylogeny and ontogeny. The illustrative bits of science follow as he discusses heterochrony and paedomophosis, showing how phylogeny relates to ontogeny, which I will grossly oversimplify: ontogeny selectively draws from phylogeny with occasional complete departures that may or may not be helpful (which is also true of the retained bits of phylogeny). The past may be selectively retained, but retaining one part does not necessitate the retention of all parts or even the relationship between the retained parts. Gould takes 409 carefully reasoned and well-written pages to get there. It's worth the trip.
0Comment| 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on February 14, 2007
"Ontogeny recapitulates philogeny" is the largely defunct theory that as a fetus grows it reprises the collected earlier adult states of its evolutionary forebears.

And this book is not so much about that theory as it is about the history of how the theory was proposed, its influence on other learning and the process of its demise.

In this way, this book is properly bracketed with Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate in its discussion of the all too not empiracal process of empiracal reasoning. Its also reminiscent of Percival Lowell's assertion that canals existed on Mars because just as Lowell largely saw what he was predisposed to see early biologists like those mentioned in this work were themselves predisposed to see what they were predisposed to see.

Yes, the theory rose and fell but perhaps Gould's most telling discussion was in his treatment of how the theory came to misused for educational and political purposes. If the fetus recapitulated its evolutionary past, then perhaps children in prominent countries capitulated in their behavior the cultures of less prominent countries. And so, child's play was just a stage reminiscent of aboriginal social interaction and a child's make believe world was their real life religion.

Deep stuff.

What Gould could have added were the other abuses made on the still existent theory of Darwinian evolution wherein turn of the century aristocrats fancied themselves the socially fittest of the species. Again, we have an example of science placed at the easy service of prejudice.

However, and this is where Gould's discussion gives cause for hope, being a scientific theory it fell because it failed to pass muster with scientific techniques of testing.

And in this way, Gould's book is not so much about the passing of a scientific idea as it is about the use of the technique of empiracal testing and not predisposition to determine truth.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on January 26, 2001
Don't let the title confuse you. "Ontogeny and Phylogeny" is not about "Ontogeny and Phylogeny" but about the THEORY of "Ontogeny and Phylogeny" in its social/historic context. It's as much sociology as biology. An excellent work. This book is not for Joe Public; it's too detailed. The author is harsh and judgemental of the past generations, he tends to get self-righteous as well. But if you like Gould's other writing you're used to that.
0Comment| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on June 21, 2000
To the reviewer from New Haven (the first to review this book) and anyone who has read his/her review: If you feel that "getting to the point" should be the purpose of all scientific writing, then I suggest reading textbooks and scientific journals. To the people (like myself) who read books like the ones that Gould writes, Science is perceived not as a mere collection of facts and the development of theories (though these are central), it is also seen as a rich part of our culture, past and present. It seems to me that the technical works of Gould and Ian Stewart and Richard Dawkins comprise Science, and have been published in professional journals. On the other hand, their non-technical works appeal to more intellectual and cosmopolitan tastes, and follow closer to the principles of The Enlightenment; that is, these authors expand from their subjects to examine the very nature of Science itself and of knowledge in general. If I want to "get to the point," I will consult the journal Nature (for instance) or my local academic library. But if I wish to explore The Big Picture, I will consult Gould. Anything by Gould. And especially Ontogeny and Phylogeny.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse