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Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life (Life & Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology & Psychology) [Paperback]

Eva Jablonka , Marion J. Lamb , Anna Zeligowski
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 May 2014 Life & Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology & Psychology
This new edition of the widely read Evolution in Four Dimensions has been revised to reflect the spate of new discoveries in biology since the book was first published in 2005, offering corrections, an updated bibliography, and a substantial new chapter. Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb's pioneering argument proposes that there is more to heredity than genes. They describe four "dimensions" in heredity -- four inheritance systems that play a role in evolution: genetic, epigenetic (or non-DNA cellular transmission of traits), behavioral, and symbolic (transmission through language and other forms of symbolic communication). These systems, they argue, can all provide variations on which natural selection can act. Jablonka and Lamb present a richer, more complex view of evolution than that offered by the gene-based Modern Synthesis, arguing that induced and acquired changes also play a role. Their lucid and accessible text is accompanied by artist-physician Anna Zeligowski's lively drawings, which humorously and effectively illustrate the authors' points. Each chapter ends with a dialogue in which the authors refine their arguments against the vigorous skepticism of the fictional "I.M." (for Ipcha Mistabra -- Aramaic for "the opposite conjecture"). The extensive new chapter, presented engagingly as a dialogue with I.M., updates the information on each of the four dimensions -- with special attention to the epigenetic, where there has been an explosion of new research. Praise for the first edition "With courage and verve, and in a style accessible to general readers, Jablonka and Lamb lay out some of the exciting new pathways of Darwinian evolution that have been uncovered by contemporary research." -- Evelyn Fox Keller, MIT, author of Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines "In their beautifully written and impressively argued new book, Jablonka and Lamb show that the evidence from more than fifty years of molecular, behavioral and linguistic studies forces us to reevaluate our inherited understanding of evolution." -- Oren Harman, The New Republic "It is not only an enjoyable read, replete with ideas and facts of interest but it does the most valuable thing a book can do -- it makes you think and reexamine your premises and long-held conclusions." -- Adam Wilkins, BioEssays

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Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life (Life & Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology & Psychology) + The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance + Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the meaning of life
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Product details

  • Paperback: 520 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (2 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262525844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262525848
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 689,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Another valuable perspective to the discussion... I found it refreshing to read a science book that is a conscious attempt at good literature." Nature "As this important book by Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb shows, the twentieth-century 'neo-Darwins' told the evolutionary story in their own particular way, and some of the richnes of evolution that their forebear had described fell into neglect." The New Republic "There have been rumblings for some time to the effect that the neo-Darwinian synthesis of the early twentieth century is incomplete and due for a major revision... Evolution in Four Dimensions is the most recent addition to this genre, and contributes yet another valuable perspective to the discussion." Massimo Pigliucci Nature --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Eva Jablonka is Professor at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. Jablonka and Lamb are also the authors of Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution. Marion J. Lamb was Senior Lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London, before her retirement. Jablonka and Lamb are also the authors of Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lamarckism Evolving 31 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent introduction to several complex areas of research. To briefly summarise, Jablonka and Lamb make a persuasive case that cumulative evolution has produced three parallel "lamarckian" hereditary systems in addition to the genetic system we are all so familiar with. The authors do a good job of summarising the current state of affairs in each area before presenting their own theories (their historical discussions of the many revisions to evolutionary theory also provide clear summaries). As the subject is so controversial this book is inevitably a bit of a polemic, but the tone is measured and calm throughout, and copious examples and scientific references are provided to support the authors' case.

I was particularly impressed that the authors generously devote a lot of space to the arguments of their opponents, in the form of a series of dialogues between the authors and an imaginary proponent of conventional gene-centred evolution. These dialogues are in my view the best part of the book, and are even amusing at times (quite a big achievement for a science book!) Finally, the authors do what many writers should do but don't, which is to bring up holes in their theory and then suggest research which could plug these gaps. They even find some time to discuss the social implications of a "four-dimensional" approach to evolution.

If you want a book about the future of evolutionary theory that's evenhanded but still puts forward interesting new ideas, I highly recommend this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 19 July 2011
By Luis CS
Format:Paperback
Eva Jablonka's "Evolution in four dimensions" is a definitely very interesting book, which should be readable by anybody with a minimum knowledge of biology. I was a University lecturer in a related area, and decided to buy it after reading several of her scientific papers. Jablonka's sense of humour is evident and enjoyable. Anna Zeligowski's funny drawings are in my opinion sometimes more fun than they are really hepful, and the small size they get in the paperback does not make them full justice. But they do contribute to the pleasure of reading, and sometimes to comprehension as well. The "dialogues" ending the parts of the book are a nice and elegantly executed idea. All in all, a very enjoyable and thought-provoking book, and for some can be an introduction to Jablonka's papers, some of which are freely available in the net.

Luis CS
Lisbon, Portugal
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oustanding overview of Evolution 13 April 2010
Format:Paperback
Summary

Thesis: Jablonka and Lambs thesis is that evolution is taking place in four distinct areas: genetic, epigenetic, behavioral and symbolic. They refute the standard dogma, that evolution is only possible on stochastic changes of the gene. The picture is a lot more complex as not only the phenotypes of nature have evolved but also the mechanisms that produce them.

The way the modern synthesis came into place needs to be looked as under a historical perspective. The idea of evolution was certainly in the air during the late 19th century. Unfortunately, no one including Darwin had a clear idea about how the mechanisms work. Instrumental in paving the way for the modern dogma was Weissman, who categorically denied an influence of the phenotype to the genotype. At the turn of the century Mendel hit the scene and it was clear that there must be something like a double stranded gene. During 1952 Crick and Watson discovered the double helix structure of the DNA. Furthermore it was discovered that radiation can change DNA. Hence it was assumed that all change leading to changes in the DNA and phenotype are stochastic events that are then selected by nature.

However, it was long understood that epigenetic mechanisms are at work in the forming of embryos. During embryo formation all cells have got the same DNA. Yet proteins formed are completely different during the formation of the embryo - otherwise it would be impossible to have a structured organism forming. The basic questions that was not asked - if these mechanisms are at work for the formation of embryos in any vertebrate and other multi cell organisms - why should they not be used by nature to change an organism over several generations and adapt to volatile environment?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breakthrough Book in Evo-Devo! 11 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback
This book speaks truly, or at least it must be said to be on the path to "the truth" based on as much as can be known right now. These authors achieve the extraordinary balancing act of being critical without being caustic, scholarly without being boring, and detailed (at least for a non-specialist in one of the fields) yet covering a grand swath of territory. If they are correct in their current interpretation of evo-devo (evolution + development, each influencing the other) -- and they certainly make a very strong case! -- then the absurd scientism of the extreme geneticists, sociobiologists, or the evolutionary psychologists must certainly make room in their theorizing for the fact that experience and learning influence not only development but also epigenetic and thus genetic evolution. Determinism must give to the anxiety of freedom, as the existentialists liked to say. (Quite a sentence but I hope you get the idea.) Their "four dimensions" of human growth (genetic, epigenetic, behavioural, & symbolic) together make perfect sense and blend nicely into each other even while each maintains a distinct influence & conceptual identity. They carve a unique perspective, yet they are careful to try to see from the points of view of those with whom they disagree, which is nice and polite and all that, but it sometimes has the unfortunate side-effect of not making their own views stand out in contrast. However, in the intriguing question-and-answer section at the end of each chapter, they dare to be more clear on their differences.

What *is* evolution anyway? They touch on the concept of "teleology" but refuse to embrace it since it seems to them to suggest divine purpose or some such thing; however, much of what they profess cannot avoid hinting at some vague natural purpose.
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