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An Urchin in the Storm

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Country  United States
Publication date  1987
Pages  255 pp.
Author  Stephen Jay Gould
Illustrator  David Levine
3.8/5 Goodreads

Language  English
Media type  Hardcover, Paperback
Originally published  1987
Publisher  W. W. Norton & Company
An Urchin in the Storm t2gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcS3k3153UpAyrRjCN
Subject  science and history of science
Preceded by  Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time
Genres  Essay, Non-fiction, Science
Similar  Works by Stephen Jay Gould, Science books

An Urchin in the Storm is a 1987 essay collection from paleontologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould.

Overview

All but one of the essays had originally appeared in The New York Review of Books. Grouped by theme, the sections of the book deal respectively with the irreducibility of history (and the pleasures and challenges of contingency) in its two principal domains of life and the earth, nature's complexity, the theory and consequences of biological determinism, and rationalism in explanation. Thus it is philosophically the most important of Gould's works - as befits a book dedicated to Peter Medawar and especially Isaiah Berlin, since the latter shares with Gould a commitment against determinism, even though Gould had a Marxist background while Berlin is quintessentially anti-Marxist.

It was reviewed in The New York Times by Michiko Kakutani, who noted that although the pieces were technically book reviews, Gould "tends to use the subject at hand as a jumping-off point for more general discussions". Gould argued against Creationism and biological determinism, criticizing sociobiology and Arthur Jensen's theories about race and intelligence. Other subjects discussed included the nature of geological time and change, the 19th century Devonian controversy, which involved the identification of a major period of earth history, and the work of biologists Barbara McClintock, E. E. Just, G. E. Hutchinson, and Lewis Thomas.

References

An Urchin in the Storm Wikipedia


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