Manual Tales of the Ex-Apes: How We Think about Human Evolution

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That would be funny because apes don't have tails. Or Tales of the Exapes.


  • Jonathan Marks.
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Pronounced as you wish. Perhaps in an Aztec accent. Jon Marks is a colleague and a friend from way back. He is a biological anthropologist who has engaged in critical study of central biological themes, such as genetics, and he's said a few things about race. He wears black, often does not shave, and has probably been a member of the Communist Party, or at least, taught a class or two on Marxist Theory. So, a book by Marks on "how we think about human evolution" the subtitle is not going to be about human evolution, but how we frame questions about human evolution, and how the process of unraveling answers to these questions revel our own biases.

Dialectical stuff.

Tales of the Ex-Apes: How We Think about Human Evolution - California Scholarship

Like that. In the book Jon says interesting things about basic anthropological theory, thought, and key touchstone figures and topics like Darwin and kinship. On the more biological side of things, species, adaptations, gene trees, and phylogeny. The destructive core of the book is an anti-reductionist critique of evolutionary theory and the constructive core of the book is an bio-cultural argument as it applies to doing anthropology, as well as how it applies to the human or just prehuman?


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Humans are a product of lived experience, but not just that. Humanness is the product of the sum of human's cultural history. Marks writes,. Science is a process of understanding, and we understand things culturally. We hope that we can observe and transcend the cultural biases of our predecessors, but there is no non-cultural knowledge. As a graphic example, consider the plaque that was attached to Pioneer Why was NASA sending pornography into outer space?

Tales of the Ex-Apes: How We Think about Human Evolution

Because they wanted to depict the man and woman in a cultureless, natural state. But surely the shaves, haircuts, and bikini waxes are cultural! As are the gendered postures, with only the man looking you straight in the eye. In a baboon, that would be a threat display; let's hope the aliens If you are teaching a course in human evolution, you might seriously consider using this as a second reading because of the critical treatment of material surely left unexamined by your textbook.

Also, it would give the students a fairer sense of what they are in for if they chose Anthropology as a major, for better or worse. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions.


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Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. What do we think about when we think about human evolution? With his characteristic wit and wisdom, anthropologist Jonathan Marks explores our scientific narrative of human origins—the study of evolution—and examines its cultural elements and theoretical foundations. In the process, he situates human evolution within a general anthropological framework and presents it as a special case of kinship and mythology.

Tales of the Ex-Apes argues that human evolution has incorporated the emergence of social relations and cultural histories that are unprecedented in the apes and thus cannot be reduced to purely biological properties and processes. Marks shows that human evolution has involved the transformation from biological to biocultural evolution.

Over tens of thousands of years, new social roles—notably spouse, father, in-laws, and grandparents—have co-evolved with new technologies and symbolic meanings to produce the human species, in the absence of significant biological evolution. We are biocultural creatures, Marks argues, fully comprehensible by recourse to neither our real ape ancestry nor our imaginary cultureless biology. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published September 8th by University of California Press. More Details Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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More filters. Sort order. I do not always agree with Jonathan arguments and sometimes I really vehemently disagree , and he tends to ramble slightly. But find me a clearer thinker and writer as passionate by human evolution as he is. Nov 19, Brian Estabrook rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosophy , history , race , science.

Indispensable book for those who are interested in human evolution and want to unlearn biological and genetic reductionism. May 31, Dave Schey rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction.

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I enjoyed this book because it got more into the social and cultural evolution of humans. Amanda rated it it was amazing Jun 22, Nathaniel rated it liked it Nov 12, Bram Hessels rated it really liked it Apr 24, Keisuke rated it really liked it Jan 09, Jenna Owens rated it it was amazing Mar 21,