The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve by Steve Stewart-Williams [Book Review]

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 95:150 (2020)
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What explains the distinctive features of human behavior? In this book, Stewart-Williams aims to answer this ambitious question. This book is an engaging addition to the already long list of recent attempts to provide an evolutionary explanation of human uniqueness. It is organized into six chapters, plus two appendices. These chapters address several key topics in evolutionary theory, sex differences and sexual behavior, altruism, and cultural evolution, albeit with varying degrees of detail and depth. These topics include sexual selection, kin selection, Hamilton’s rule, reciprocal altruism, costly signaling theory, group selection, gene-centered views of evolution, inclusive fitness, proximate and ultimate evolutionary explanations, inbreeding avoidance, the Westermarck effect, jealousy, sperm competition, mating and parenting effort, cumulative cultural evolution, imitation and learning biases, evolutionary mismatch theories, and more.

Author's Profile

Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera
University of Bern


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