Darwin and Design
Michael RUSE Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress QH360.5R867 2003 | Dewey Decimal 576.801
The intricate forms of living things bespeak design, and thus a creator: nearly 150 years after Darwin's theory of natural selection called this argument into question, we still speak of life in terms of design--the function of the eye, the purpose of the webbed foot, the design of the fins. Why is the "argument from design" so tenacious, and does Darwinism--itself still evolving after all these years--necessarily undo it?
The definitive work on these contentious questions, Darwin and Design surveys the argument from design from its introduction by the Greeks, through the coming of Darwinism, down to the present day. In clear, non-technical language Michael Ruse, a well-known authority on the history and philosophy of Darwinism, offers a full and fair assessment of the status of the argument from design in light of both the advances of modern evolutionary biology and the thinking of today's philosophers--with special attention given to the supporters and critics of "intelligent design."
The first comprehensive history and exposition of Western thought about design in the natural world, this important work suggests directions for our thinking as we move into the twenty-first century. A thoroughgoing guide to a perennially controversial issue, the book makes its own substantial contribution to the ongoing debate about the relationship between science and religion, and between evolution and its religious critics.
Table of Contents:
1. Two Thousand Years of Design 2. Paley and Kant Fight Back 3. Sowing the Seeds of Evolution 4. A Plurality of Problems 5. Charles Darwin 6. A Subject Too Profound 7. Darwinian against Darwinian 8. The Century of Evolutionism 9. Adaptation in Action 10. Theory and Test 11. Formalism Redux 12. From Function to Design 13. Design as Metaphor 14. Natural Theology Evolves 15. Turning Back the Clock
Sources and Suggested Reading Illustration Credits Acknowledgments Index
Reviews of this book: Ruse examines the concept of 'design' in nature, explaining why it still remains a strong influence despite the scientific revolution, and historically, how it dominated Western thought from ancient Greece (Plato) to the advent and predominance of Christianity...A rich and compelling book. --J. S. Schwartz, Choice
Reviews of this book: Anyone who is interested in the 'science wars' controversy or the history of evolutionary thought will find this book fascinating and rewarding. The prose is masterfill--relaxed, colloquial, rich in information, and suffused with flashes of malicious wit and delicious historical tidbits. --Matt Cartmill, Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Reviews of this book: To anyone interested in the evolution of evolution, I recommend this book. --John Tyler Bonner, Natural History
Reviews of this book: This has to be the best of Ruse's many books, and it is hard to imagine how a better one could be written on this subject. With an understanding erudition spiced with good-natured wit and occasional sly ribaldry, Ruse moves easily and assuredly among biology, philosophy, history, and theology. --Robert T. Pennock, Science
Reviews of this book: Michael Ruse's latest book, Darwin and Design, is an intellectual history of the design argument and its Darwinian solution...His story is a fascinating one, enlivened especially by his accounts of various imaginative attempts before Darwin to solve the design problem without recourse to a deity. --Daniel W. McShea, American Scientist
Drawing on his investigation of over one hundred mid-Victorian British newspapers and periodicals, Alvar Ellegård describes and analyzes the impact of Darwin's theory of evolution during the first dozen years after the publication of the Origin of Species. Although Darwin's book caused an immediate stir in literary and scientific periodicals, the popular press largely ignored it. Only after the work's implications for theology and the nature of man became evident did general publications feel compelled to react; each social group responded according to his own political and religious prejudices. Ellegård charts the impact of this revolution in science, maintaining that although the idea of evolution was generally accepted, Darwin's primary contribution, the theory of natural selection, was either ignored or rejected among the public.
Darwin’s concept of natural selection has been exhaustively studied, but his secondary evolutionary principle of sexual selection remains largely unexplored and misunderstood. Yet sexual selection was of great strategic importance to Darwin because it explained things that natural selection could not and offered a naturalistic, as opposed to divine, account of beauty and its perception.
Only now, with Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection, do we have a comprehensive and meticulously researched account of Darwin’s path to its formulation—one that shows the man, rather than the myth, and examines both the social and intellectual roots of Darwin’s theory. Drawing on the minutiae of his unpublished notes, annotations in his personal library, and his extensive correspondence, Evelleen Richards offers a richly detailed, multilayered history. Her fine-grained analysis comprehends the extraordinarily wide range of Darwin’s sources and disentangles the complexity of theory, practice, and analogy that went into the making of sexual selection. Richards deftly explores the narrative strands of this history and vividly brings to life the chief characters involved. A true milestone in the history of science, Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection illuminates the social and cultural contingencies of the shaping of an important—if controversial—biological concept that is back in play in current evolutionary theory.
Levine shows how Darwin's ideas affected nineteenth-century novelists—from Dickens and Trollope to Conrad. "Levine stands in our day as the premier critic and commentator on Victorian prose."—Frank M. Turner, Nineteenth-Century Literature. "Magnificently written, with a care and delicacy worthy of its subject."—Nina Auerbach, University of Pennsylvania
The ideas and terminology of Darwinism are so pervasive these days that it seems impossible to avoid them, let alone imagine a world without them. But in this remarkable rethinking of scientific history, Peter J. Bowler does just that. He asks: What if Charles Darwin had not returned from the voyage of the Beagle and thus did not write On the Origin of Species? Would someone else, such as Alfred Russel Wallace, have published the selection theory and initiated a similar transformation? Or would the absence of Darwin’s book have led to a different sequence of events, in which biology developed along a track that did not precipitate a great debate about the impact of evolutionism? Would there have been anything equivalent to social Darwinism, and if so would the alternatives have been less pernicious and misappropriated?
In Darwin Deleted, Bowler argues that no one else, not even Wallace, was in a position to duplicate Darwin’s complete theory of evolution by natural selection. Evolutionary biology would almost certainly have emerged, but through alternative theories, which were frequently promoted by scientists, religious thinkers, and moralists who feared the implications of natural selection. Because non-Darwinian elements of evolutionism flourished for a time in the real world, it is possible to plausibly imagine how they might have developed, particularly if the theory of natural selection had not emerged until decades after the acceptance of the basic idea of evolution. Bowler’s unique approach enables him to clearly explain the non-Darwinian tradition—and in doing so, he reveals how the reception of Darwinism was historically contingent. By taking Darwin out of the equation, Bowler is able to fully elucidate the ideas of other scientists, such as Richard Owen and Thomas Huxley, whose work has often been misunderstood because of their distinctive responses to Darwin.
Darwin Deleted boldly offers a new vision of scientific history. It is one where the sequence of discovery and development would have been very different and would have led to an alternative understanding of the relationship between evolution, heredity, and the environment—and, most significantly, a less contentious relationship between science and religion. Far from mere speculation, this fascinating and compelling book forces us to reexamine the preconceptions that underlie many of the current controversies about the impact of evolutionism. It shows how contingent circumstances surrounding the publication of On the Origin of Species polarized attitudes in ways that still shape the conversation today.
Darwinian Politics is the first book to examine political behavior from a modern evolutionary perspective. Here, Paul H. Rubin discusses group or social behavior, including ethnic and racial conflict; altruism and cooperation; envy; political power; and the role of religion in politics ¾ issues that have formed the hallmark of human social behavior.
Adopting a Darwinian perspective, Rubin demonstrates why certain political-moral philosophies succeed or fail in modern Western culture. He begins by showing relationships between biology and natural selection and the history of political philosophy and explains why desirable policies must treat each person as an individual. He considers the notion of group identity and conflict, observing a human propensity to form in-groups, a behavior that does not necessitate but often leads to deviancies such as racism. In discussing altruism, Rubin shows that people are willing to aid the poor if they are convinced that the recipients are not shirkers or free loaders. This explains why recent welfare reforms are widely viewed as successful. Envy, a trait that is often counterproductive in today’s world, is also addressed. In comparing major moral philosophical systems, Rubin contends that utilitarianism is broadly consistent with our evolved preferences. He illustrates evolutionary premises for religious belief and for desires to regulate the behavior of others, and how in today’s world such regulation may not serve any useful purpose.
Ultimately, Rubin argues that humans naturally seek political freedom, and modern Western society provides more freedom than any previous one. In light of his analysis, the author extrapolates that, while there are still areas for improvements, humans have done a remarkably good job of satisfying their evolved political preferences.
Originally published in 1979, The Darwinian Revolution was the first comprehensive and readable synthesis of the history of evolutionary thought. Though the years since have seen an enormous flowering of research on Darwin and other nineteenth-century scientists concerned with evolution, as well as the larger social and cultural responses to their work, The Darwinian Revolution remains remarkably current and stimulating.
For this edition Michael Ruse has written a new afterword that takes into account the research published since his book's first appearance.
"It is difficult to believe that yet another book on Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution could add anything new or contain any surprises. Ruse's book is an exception on all counts. Darwin scholars and the general reader alike can learn from it."—David L. Hull, Nature
"No other account of the Darwinian Revolution provides so detailed and sympathetic an account of the framework within which the scientific debates took place."—Peter J. Bowler, Canadian Journal of History
"A useful and highly readable synthesis. . .skillfully organized and written with verve, imagination, and welcome touches of humor."—John C. Greene, Science
One of the great intellectual battles of modern times is between evolution and religion. Until now, they have been considered completely irreconcilable theories of origin and existence. David Sloan Wilson's Darwin's Cathedral takes the radical step of joining the two, in the process proposing an evolutionary theory of religion that shakes both evolutionary biology and social theory at their foundations.
The key, argues Wilson, is to think of society as an organism, an old idea that has received new life based on recent developments in evolutionary biology. If society is an organism, can we then think of morality and religion as biologically and culturally evolved adaptations that enable human groups to function as single units rather than mere collections of individuals? Wilson brings a variety of evidence to bear on this question, from both the biological and social sciences. From Calvinism in sixteenth-century Geneva to Balinese water temples, from hunter-gatherer societies to urban America, Wilson demonstrates how religions have enabled people to achieve by collective action what they never could do alone. He also includes a chapter considering forgiveness from an evolutionary perspective and concludes by discussing how all social organizations, including science, could benefit by incorporating elements of religion.
Religious believers often compare their communities to single organisms and even to insect colonies. Astoundingly, Wilson shows that they might be literally correct. Intended for any educated reader, Darwin's Cathedral will change forever the way we view the relations among evolution, religion, and human society.
While conservatives are presumed to be critical of Darwin’s theory, many on the right, such as George Will, James Q. Wilson, and Larry Arnhart, have mounted a vigorous defense of Darwinism. As Discovery Institute's John West explains in his book, Darwin's Conservatives: The Misguided Quest, their attempts to reconcile conservatism and Darwinian biology misunderstand both.
In this small but incisive book, Dr. West addresses how Darwin’s theory, contrary to its conservative champions, manifestly does not reinforce the teachings of conservatism. According to West, Darwinism promotes moral relativism rather than traditional morality. It fosters utopianism rather than limited government. It is corrosive, rather than supportive, of both free will and religious belief. Finally, and most importantly, Darwinian evolution is in tension with the scientific evidence, and conservatism cannot hope to strengthen itself by relying on Darwinism’s increasingly shaky empirical foundations. This book issues a challenge to conservatives they cannot afford to ignore. According to Prof. J. Budziszewski of the University of Texas, Austin, hails the book for “showing clearly that Darwinism is not a source of conservative insight into human nature, but only a source of confusion.”
Why—against his mentor’s exhortations to publish—did Charles Darwin take twenty years to reveal his theory of evolution by natural selection? In Darwin’s Evolving Identity, Alistair Sponsel argues that Darwin adopted this cautious approach to atone for his provocative theorizing as a young author spurred by that mentor, the geologist Charles Lyell. While we might expect him to have been tormented by guilt about his private study of evolution, Darwin was most distressed by harsh reactions to his published work on coral reefs, volcanoes, and earthquakes, judging himself guilty of an authorial “sin of speculation.” It was the battle to defend himself against charges of overzealous theorizing as a geologist, rather than the prospect of broader public outcry over evolution, which made Darwin such a cautious author of Origin of Species.
Drawing on his own ambitious research in Darwin’s manuscripts and at the Beagle’s remotest ports of call, Sponsel takes us from the ocean to the Origin and beyond. He provides a vivid new picture of Darwin’s career as a voyaging naturalist and metropolitan author, and in doing so makes a bold argument about how we should understand the history of scientific theories.
Two species come to mind when one thinks of the Galapagos Islands—the giant tortoises and Darwin’s fabled finches. While not as immediately captivating as the tortoises, these little brown songbirds and their beaks have become one of the most familiar and charismatic research systems in biology, providing generations of natural historians and scientists a lens through which to view the evolutionary process and its role in morphological differentiation.
In Darwin’s Finches, Kathleen Donohue excerpts and collects the most illuminating and scientifically significant writings on the finches of the Galapagos to teach the fundamental principles of evolutionary theory and to provide a historical record of scientific debate. Beginning with fragments of Darwin’s Galapagos field notes and subsequent correspondence, and moving through the writings of such famed field biologists as David Lack and Peter and Rosemary Grant, the collection demonstrates how scientific processes have changed over time, how different branches of biology relate to one another, and how they all relate to evolution. As Donohue notes, practicing science today is like entering a conversation that has been in progress for a long, long time. Her book provides the history of that conversation and an invitation to join in. Students of both evolutionary biology and history of science will appreciate this compilation of historical and contemporary readings and will especially value Donohue’s enlightening commentary.
Darwin's Orchids: Then and Now
Edited by Retha Edens-Meier and Peter Bernhardt University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress QK495.O64D292 2014 | Dewey Decimal 584.4
For biologists, 2009 was an epochal year: the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of a book now known simply as The Origin of Species. But for many botanists, Darwin’s true legacy starts with the 1862 publication of another volume: On the Various Contrivances by Which British and Foreign Orchids Are Fertilised by Insects and on the Good Effects of Intercrossing, or Fertilisation of Orchids. This slim but detailed book with the improbably long title was the first in a series of plant studies by Darwin that continues to serve as a global exemplar in the field of evolutionary botany. In Darwin’s Orchids, an international group of orchid biologists unites to celebrate and explore the continuum that stretches from Darwin’s groundbreaking orchid research to that of today.
Mirroring the structure of Fertilisation of Orchids, Darwin’s Orchids investigates flowers from Darwin’s home in England, through the southern hemisphere, and on to North America and China as it seeks to address a set of questions first put forward by Darwin himself: What pollinates this particular type of orchid? How does its pollination mechanism work? Will an orchid self-pollinate or is an insect or other animal vector required? And how has this orchid’s lineage changed over time? Diverse in their colors, forms, aromas, and pollination schemes, orchids have long been considered ideal models for the study of plant evolution and conservation. Looking to the past, present, and future of botany, Darwin’s Orchids will be a vital addition to this tradition.
There has always been a mystery surrounding Darwin: How did this quiet, respectable gentleman come to beget one of the most radical ideas in the history of human thought? It is difficult to overstate what Darwin was risking in publishing his theory of evolution. So it must have been something very powerful—a moral fire, as Desmond and Moore put it—that helped propel him. That moral fire, they argue, was a passionate hatred of slavery.
In opposition to the apologists for slavery who argued that blacks and whites had originated as separate species, Darwin believed the races belonged to the same human family. Slavery was a “sin,” and abolishing it became his “sacred cause.” By extending the abolitionists’ idea of human brotherhood to all life, Darwin developed our modern view of evolution.
Drawing on a wealth of fresh manuscripts, family letters, diaries, and even ships’ logs, Desmond and Moore argue that only by acknowledging Darwin’s abolitionist heritage can we fully understand the development of his groundbreaking ideas.
We all know about the birds and the bees, but what about the ancient placoderm fishes and the dinosaurs? The history of sex is as old as life itself—and as complicated and mysterious. And despite centuries of study there is always more to know. In 2008, paleontologist John A. Long and a team of researchers revealed their discovery of a placoderm fish fossil, known as “the mother fish,” which at 380 million years old revealed the oldest vertebrate embryo—the earliest known example of internal fertilization. As Long explains, this find led to the reexamination of countless fish fossils and the discovery of previously undetected embryos. As a result, placoderms are now considered to be the first species to have had intimate sexual reproduction or sex as we know it—sort of.
Inspired by this incredible find, Long began a quest to uncover the paleontological and evolutionary history of copulation and insemination. In The Dawn of the Deed, he takes readers on an entertaining and lively tour through the sex lives of ancient fish and exposes the unusual mating habits of arthropods, tortoises, and even a well-endowed (16.5 inches!) Argentine Duck. Long discusses these significant discoveries alongside what we know about reproductive biology and evolutionary theory, using the fossil record to provide a provocative account of prehistoric sex. The Dawn of the Deed also explores fascinating revelations about animal reproduction, from homosexual penguins to monogamous seahorses to the difficulties of dinosaur romance and how sexual organs in ancient shark-like fishes actually relate to our own sexual anatomy.
The Dawn of the Deed is Long’s own story of what it’s like to be a part of a discovery that rewrites evolutionary history as well as an absolutely rollicking guide to sex throughout the ages in the animal kingdom. It’s natural history with a naughty wink.
Robert J. Richards and Michael Ruse University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress QH366.2.R5238 2016 | Dewey Decimal 576.82
Charles Darwin is easily the most famous scientist of the modern age, and his theory of evolution is constantly referenced in many contexts by scientists and nonscientists alike. And yet, despite how frequently his ideas are evoked, there remains a surprising amount we don’t know about the father of modern evolutionary thinking, his intellectual roots, and the science he produced. Debating Darwin seeks to change that, bringing together two leading Darwin scholars—Robert J. Richards and Michael Ruse—to engage in a spirited and insightful dialogue, offering their interpretations of Darwin and their critiques of each other’s thinking.
Examining key disagreements about Darwin that continue to confound even committed Darwinists, Richards and Ruse offer divergent views on the origins and nature of Darwin and his ideas. Ruse argues that Darwin was quintessentially British and that the roots of his thought can be traced back to the eighteenth century, particularly to the Industrial Revolution and thinkers such as Adam Smith and Thomas Robert Malthus. Ruse argues that when these influences are appreciated, we can see how Darwin’s work in biology is an extension of their theories. In contrast, Richards presents Darwin as a more cosmopolitan, self-educated man, influenced as much by French and particularly German thinkers. Above all, argues Richards, it was Alexander von Humboldt who both inspired Darwin and gave him the conceptual tools that he needed to find and formulate his evolutionary hypotheses. Together, the authors show how the reverberations of the contrasting views on Darwin’s influences can be felt in theories about the nature of natural selection, the role of metaphor in science, and the place of God in Darwin’s thought.
Revealing how much there still is to investigate and interrogate about Darwin’s ideas, Debating Darwin contributes to our understanding of evolution itself. The book concludes with a jointly authored chapter that brings this debate into the present, focusing on human evolution, consciousness, religion, and morality. This will be powerful, essential reading for anyone seeking a comprehensive understanding of modern-day evolutionary science and philosophy.
Twelve renowned scientists and theologians offer penetrating insights into the evolution dialogue in The Deep Structure of Biology. Each considers whether the orthodox model of evolution is sufficient and offers his/her own perspective on evolution and biology. Essays include:
•Chance and Necessity in Evolution
•Green Plants as Intelligent Organisms
•Canny Corvoids and Political Primates: A Case for Convergent Evolution in Intelligence
•Social and Cultural Evolution in the Ocean: Convergences and Contrasts with Terrestrial Systems
•Purpose in Nature: On the Possibility of a Theology of Evolution
Editor Simon Conway Morris provides the introduction and an overview of the issues as well as an essay on evolution and convergence. Other contributors are: Richard Lenski, George McGhee, Karl Niklas, Anthony Trewavas, Nigel Franks, Nicola Clayton, Nathan Emery, HalWhitehead, Robert Foley, Michael Ruse, Celia Deane-Drummond, and John Haught.
The discussion of biology and evolution in these essays broadens the scope of the traditional evolution discussion as it aims to stimulate the development of further research programs. Scholars in the science and religion field will find this book a valuable resource.
How is it that comic books—the once reviled form of lowbrow popular culture—are now the rage for Hollywood blockbusters, the basis for bestselling video games, and the inspiration for literary graphic novels? In Demanding Respect, Paul Lopes immerses himself in the discourse and practices of this art and subculture to provide a social history of the American comic book over the last 75 years.
Lopes analyzes the cultural production, reception, and consumption of American comic books throughout American history. He charts the rise of superheroes, the proliferation of serials, and the emergence of graphic novels. Demanding Respect explores how comic books born in the 1930s were perceived as a “menace” in the 1950s, only to later become collectors’ items and eventually “hip” fiction in the 1980s through today.
Using a theoretical framework to examine the construction of comic book culture—the artists, publishers, readers and fans—Lopes explains how and why comic books have captured the public’s imagination and gained a fanatic cult following.
The book is divided into seven chapters. The first discusses general anthropological principles and theories pertaining to human adaptation and development in cold environments. The second outlines the environmental conditions of the specific area under study in the book.
The next two chapters focus on Neanderthal finds in the area. The following two chapters discuss the replacement of the local Neanderthal population by the Cro-magnons, and the development of their way of life in the cold Loess Steppe environment. The final chapter summarizes the discussion and is followed by an extremely valuable and extensive bibliography, more than half of which consists of non-English (primarily Russian) sources.
What do eggs, flour, and milk have in common? They form the basis of waffles, of course, but these staples of breakfast bounty also share an evolutionary function: eggs, seeds (from which we derive flour by grinding), and milk have each evolved to nourish offspring. Indeed, ponder the genesis of your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you’ll soon realize that everything we eat and drink has an evolutionary history. In Dinner with Darwin, join Jonathan Silvertown for a multicourse meal of evolutionary gastronomy, a tantalizing tour of human taste that helps us to understand the origins of our diets and the foods that have been central to them for millennia—from spices to spirits.
A delectable concoction of coevolution and cookery, gut microbiomes and microherbs, and both the chicken and its egg, Dinner with Darwin reveals that our shopping lists, recipe cards, and restaurant menus don’t just contain the ingredients for culinary delight. They also tell a fascinating story about natural selection and its influence on our plates—and palates. Digging deeper, Silvertown’s repast includes entrées into GMOs and hybrids, and looks at the science of our sensory interactions with foods and cooking—the sights, aromas, and tastes we experience in our kitchens and dining rooms. As is the wont of any true chef, Silvertown packs his menu with eclectic components, dishing on everything from Charles Darwin’s intestinal maladies to taste bud anatomy and turducken.
Our evolutionary relationship with food and drink stretches from the days of cooking cave dwellers to contemporary crêperies and beyond, and Dinner with Darwin serves up scintillating insight into the entire, awesome span. This feast of soup, science, and human society is one to savor. With a wit as dry as a fine pinot noir and a cache of evolutionary knowledge as vast as the most discerning connoisseur’s wine cellar, Silvertown whets our appetites—and leaves us hungry for more.
Eight percent of our DNA contains retroviruses that are millions of years old. Anna Marie Skalka explains how our evolving knowledge of these particles has advanced genetic engineering, gene delivery systems, and precision medicine. Retroviruses cause disease but also hold clues to prevention and treatment possibilities that are anything but retro.
Biologists, breeders and trainers, and champion sled dog racers, Raymond and Lorna Coppinger have more than four decades of experience with literally thousands of dogs. Offering a scientifically informed perspective on canines and their relations with humans, the Coppingers take a close look at eight different types of dogs—household, village, livestock guarding, herding, sled-pulling, pointing, retrieving, and hound. They argue that dogs did not evolve directly from wolves, nor were they trained by early humans; instead they domesticated themselves to exploit a new ecological niche: Mesolithic village dumps. Tracing the evolution of today's breeds from these village dogs, the Coppingers show how characteristic shapes and behaviors—from pointing and baying to the sleek shapes of running dogs—arise from both genetic heritage and the environments in which pups are raised.
For both dogs and humans to get the most out of each other, we need to understand and adapt to the biological needs and dispositions of our canine companions, just as they have to ours.
Every flu season, sneezing, coughing, and graphic throat-clearing become the day-to-day background noise in every workplace. And coworkers tend to move as far—and as quickly—away from the source of these bodily eruptions as possible. Instinctively, humans recoil from objects that they view as dirty and even struggle to overcome feelings of discomfort once the offending item has been cleaned. These reactions are universal, and although there are cultural and individual variations, by and large we are all disgusted by the same things.
In Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat, Valerie Curtis builds a strong case for disgust as a “shadow emotion”—less familiar than love or sadness, it nevertheless affects our day-to-day lives. In disgust, biological and sociocultural factors meet in dynamic ways to shape human and animal behavior. Curtis traces the evolutionary role of disgust in disease prevention and hygiene, but also shows that it is much more than a biological mechanism. Human social norms, from good manners to moral behavior, are deeply rooted in our sense of disgust. The disgust reaction informs both our political opinions and our darkest tendencies, such as misogyny and racism. Through a deeper understanding of disgust, Curtis argues, we can take this ubiquitous human emotion and direct it towards useful ends, from combating prejudice to reducing disease in the poorest parts of the world by raising standards of hygiene.
Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat reveals disgust to be a vital part of what it means to be human and explores how this deep-seated response can be harnessed to improve the world.