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

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

by Gaia Vince


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In the tradition of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Sapiens, a winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books shows how four tools enabled has us humans to control the destiny of our species

"A wondrous, visionary work." —Tim Flannery, scientist and author of the bestselling The Weather Makers

What enabled us to go from simple stone tools to smartphones? How did bands of hunter-gatherers evolve into multinational empires? Readers of Sapiens will say a cognitive revolution — a dramatic evolutionary change that altered our brains, turning primitive humans into modern ones — caused a cultural explosion. In Transcendence, Gaia Vince argues instead that modern humans are the product of a nuanced coevolution of our genes, environment, and culture that goes back into deep time. She explains how, through four key elements — fire, language, beauty, and time — our species diverged from the evolutionary path of all other animals, unleashing a compounding process that launched us into the Space Age and beyond. Provocative and poetic, Transcendence shows how a primate took dominion over nature and turned itself into something marvelous.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465094905
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 01/21/2020
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 231,010
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Gaia Vince is a science writer and broadcaster. In 2015, she was the first woman to win the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book prize solo for her debut, Adventures in the Anthropocene. She has held senior editorial posts at Nature and New Scientist, and writes for Science, the Guardian, and others. She lives in London.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Genesis 11

1 Conception 13

2 Birth 19

Fire 27

3 Landscaping 29

4 Brain Building 43

5 Cultural Levers 59

Word 79

6 Story 81

7 Language 105

8 Telling 127

Beauty 147

9 Belonging 149

10 Trinkets and Treasures 175

11 Builders 199

Time 227

12 Timekeepers 229

13 Reason 245

14 Homni 265

Acknowledgments 279

Notes 281

Index 327

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