Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time (Hardback)
  • Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time (Hardback)

Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time (Hardback)

Hardback 320 Pages / Published: 07/11/2019
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Waterstones Says

Richly informed by the latest research, Transcendence is a fascinating investigation into the interplay between genes, environment and collective culture in human evolution.

Shortlisted for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2020

From the prize-winning author of Adventures in the Anthropocene, the astonishing story of how culture enabled us to become the most successful species on Earth

Humans are the most successful species on Earth; a planet-altering force of nature. Meanwhile, our closest living relatives, the now-endangered chimpanzees, continue to live as they have for millions of years. Yet we evolved through the same process. What are we then? And now we have remade the world, what are we becoming?

Setting out to answer this question, Gaia Vince retells our evolution story. Unlike any other species on earth we determine the course of our own destiny, something that she argues rests on a special relationship between our genes, environment and culture going back into deep time. It is our collective culture, rather than our individual intelligence, that makes humans unique. Vince shows how our four evolutionary drivers - Fire, Language, Beauty and Time - are further transforming our species into a superorganism: a hyper-cooperative mass of humanity that she calls Homo omnis, or 'Homni'. Drawing on cutting-edge advances in population genetics, archaeology, palaeontology and neuroscience, Transcendence compels us to reimagine ourselves, showing us to be on the brink of something grander - and potentially more destructive.

To think of humans as a smarter sort of chimp with cool tools is to miss what is truly extraordinary about us. Look around you: we are the intelligent designers of all you see - including ourselves.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780241281116
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 536 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 31 mm


'A hugely enjoyable sprint through human evolutionary history ... Read it.' - Tim Radford, Nature 

'Beautifully written ... At her best Vince takes dizzying leaps, making connections between archaeology, anthropology, genetics and psychology. She is especially good on the delicate interplay between genes, environment and culture. Vince steps with lightness.'  - Tom Whipple, The Times 

'The storming success of Yuval Noah Harari's books has inspired many others that aim to span the epic sweep of human history with grand theories and cor-blimey factoids. This book does both.' - The Times 

'Here is the miraculous creature we are: unlikely, poignant, astonishing ... Much to think about. This book gives rise to many such thoughts and is written with merciful clarity.' - Sebastian Barry

'Wonderful ... enlightening.' - Robin Ince

'This book goes from the Big Bang to the Hundred Thousand Genome Project to make a convincing case that Homo sapiens has become a super-organism. I learned a lot from it and so will you.' - Steve Jones

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