Harmony and conflict in the living world
Consider the many differences between you and a stone. Would it surprise you, asks the eminent ornithologist Alexander F. Skutch, to learn that the key difference lies in your having a skin? Our skin, he continues, is both our salvation and our downfall: it protects us from dangerous intruders, but it also constricts our individuality, retarding the growth of a deep sense of community with the rest of the living world.Skutch argues that a principle of increasing harmony drives the living world -- but along a bumpy road pitted with the paradoxes of evolution. His central purpose in this thought-provoking book is to examine the sources of these paradoxes and how they can deepen our understanding of life. Along the way he explores several biological heresies, such as anthropomorphism. He even tackles the conventional wisdom that we should strive to preserve maximum biodiversity, proposing "biocompatibility" instead.Focusing on our present alarming situation, Skutch presents strategies -- some highly controversial -- based on his broad perspective and long experience, and he concludes with cautious optimism.
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