U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Evolution fits all adaptive traits?

While we are on the subject of Darwin…here is a NY Times article about a book I have not read. It is due out of Princeton UPress soon. And because I am wary of the way newspapers sometimes misconstrue the serious research of serious scholars, I am phrasing this as a question.

Has anyone read this book? (Advance Copies, Blurbers, etc.)


Moreover, might someone who knows confirm that this Economic Historian’s argument explains the Industrial Revolution as a byproduct of evolved traits giving Europeans natural advantages for technological advancement? Presumably this means that other places and peoples did not evolve? Or did the Mongol invasion signal an evolutionary jump for the Mongols just before Europe was sacked?

Are we to understand that the industrial revolution did not arise from other economic and military factors like slavery, gunpower, the emergence of non-dynastic national governments, the disintegration of a ruling religious dogma, the rise of merchant banking, or even some lucky pathogenic tolerances;(Or “unlucky” pathogenic profiles if you happened to be from another part of the world)?

Is the explanation of “natural selection” an easy answer to the questions behind the colonial project? Or since all traits can be explained through adaptive mechanisms, is this just another way to make eurocentrism seem more sophisticated? Rationalization for success? “I did not steal that car, officer, I am just more evolved than the owner.”

I’d like to hear more about this book and I wonder why I am not already hearing much more!