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By Stephen Jay Gould
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the vitamin of Worms is the latest choice of best-selling scientist Stephen Jay Gould's renowned essays from Natural History journal (the longest-running sequence of medical essays in history). it's also the 1st of the ultimate 3 such collections, on the grounds that Dr. Gould has introduced that the sequence will finish with the flip of the millennium.
In this assortment, Gould consciously and unconventionally formulates a humanistic traditional historical past, a attention of the way people have discovered to review and comprehend nature, instead of a heritage of nature itself. along with his commonplace brilliance, Gould examines the puzzles and paradoxes nice and small that construct nature's and humanity's variety and order. In affecting brief biographies, he depicts how students grapple with difficulties of technological know-how and philosophy as he illuminates the interplay of the outer global with the original human skill to fight to appreciate the whys and wherefores of life.
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Extra resources for Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History
Of the various French monks who've turn into unusual scholars of old existence (in a land the place either Catholic traditions and basic highbrow commitments desire concord among different domain names of technology and religion—see bankruptcy 14), Pierre Teilhard de Chard in definitely gained the main popularity, whereas the Abbé Henri Breuil may have performed the easiest paintings. Breuil, a skilled artist, spent approximately sixty years copying figures from cave partitions (at a time whilst images yielded bad photos in such subterranean conditions), after which evaluating the consequences in his compendia of drawings. He traced without delay from cave partitions each time attainable, and with utmost care always (drawings should not inherently extra subjective than photographs). yet he occasionally needed to paintings by means of tough and oblique tools. He couldn't, for instance, press paper opposed to the well-known painted ceiling of Altamira simply because any direct touch indifferent the pasty pigment utilized by Paleolithic artists. for that reason, located like Michelangelo less than the Sistine Chapel ceiling, he lay on his again, cushioned on gentle sacks of ferns, whereas preserving his paper as as regards to the roof as attainable, and making imperfect sketches. As he drew the animals one after the other, Breuil tended to learn their that means within the similar piecemeal fashion—that is, as members instead of components of built-in compositions. He held that the work functioned as one of those “hunting magic” to make video game abundant (if you draw it, it is going to come), or to make sure good fortune within the kill (game animals are usually painted with wounds and spear holes). Breuil wrote in his precis ebook of 1952: right here, for the 1st time, males dreamed of serious paintings and, via the paranormal contemplation in their works, gave to their contemporaries the reassurance of good fortune of their looking expeditions, of triumphs within the fight opposed to the big pachyderms and grazing animals. within the subsequent iteration, André Leroi-Gourhan, director of the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, approached an analogous topic of that means from the maximally various viewpoint of his “card-carrying” club in a single of the main highbrow activities of our century—French structuralism as embodied within the paintings of anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. this manner of structuralism searches for undying and integrative subject matters in line with dichotomous divisions which could checklist a lot of nature’s truth, yet typically replicate the brain’s simple mode of operation. therefore, we separate nature from tradition (the uncooked and the cooked, in Levi-Strauss’s terminology), gentle from darkness, and, especially, male from woman. Leroi-Gourhan for this reason considered every one cave as an built-in composition, a sanctuary during which the numbers and positions of animals bore unified which means inside a scheme set by way of the first duality of female and male. every one animal turned an emblem, with a first-rate department among horses as male and bisons as woman. He additionally interpreted summary symptoms and artifacts as sexually classified, with spears (for instance) as male, and wounds as girl.