The Ape That Understood the Universe by Steve Stewart-Williams
TITLE: The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve
AUTHOR: Steve Stewart-Williams
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: December 2018
FORMAT: ARC ebook
NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.
In this book, Steve Stewart-Williams gives us a story of the human animal by taking a look at the human species from a new perspective: through the eyes of a hypothetical, hyperintelligent alien.
" If an alien did drop in on us, how would it view our species?"
This is a fun way of discussing human behaviour and culture, without devolving into baby talk.
The author draws ideas from evolutionary theory to shed light on the human mind and behaviour (i.e. evolutionary psychology); and evolutionary principles to shed light on human culture (i.e. cultural evolutionary theory). Stewart-Williams discusses a variety of multidimensional aspects to provide a deeper understanding of the evolutionary and cultural (memes!) foundation for human behaviour.
The guiding assumption is that:
"humans are animals, and like all animals, we evolved to pass on our genes. At some point, however, we also evolved the capactiy for culture - and from that moment, culture began evolving in its own right. This transformed us from mere ape into an ape capable of reshaping the planet, traveling to other worlds, and understanding the vast universe of which we are but a tiny, fleeting fragment."
This book is well written and the author makes his arguments in a lucid manner without fluffy, irrelevant, biographical side trips. A worthy successor to Desmond Morris' "The Naked Ape" and "The Human Zoo", as well as Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene".