By Steven J. Dick & Mark L. Lupisella
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Extra info for Cosmos and Culture
Despite the compartmentalization of today’s academic science, evolution knows no disciplinary boundaries. As such, the most familiar kind of evolution—biological evolution, or neo-Darwinism—is just one, albeit important, subset of a broader evolutionary scheme encompassing much more than mere life on Earth. In short, what Darwinian change does for plants and animals, cosmic evolution aspires to do for all things. And if Darwinism created a revolution of understanding by helping to free us from the notion that humans differ from other life-forms on our planet, then cosmic evolution extends that intellectual revolution by treating matter on Earth and in our bodies no differently from that in the stars and galaxies beyond.
For the more we examine nature, the more everything seems related to everything else. Our appreciation for evolution now extends well beyond the subject of biology; indeed, the concept of evolution, generally considered, has become a potent unifying factor in all of science. Yet questions remain: how valid are the apparent continuities among nature’s historical epochs and how realistic is the quest for unification? Can we reconcile the observed constructiveness of cosmic evolution with the inherent destructiveness of thermodynamics?
But despite the importance of clear distinctions and definitions, imperfect definitions should not prevent exploratory analysis. Often, in pursuing analyses that tolerate imperfect definitions, we find contexts and usages that help clarify, however unsatisfying those definitions may still ultimately remain. Indeed, in this book, we do not focus explicitly on defining cultural evolution, or, for that matter, life, intelligence, and culture. ” Nevertheless, perhaps increased clarity will come from considering the broader and theoretical explorations of the authors’ contributions.