14. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Carl Sagan

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14. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Carl Sagan

Post  galactic_dev on Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:06 am

I love Carl Sagan and his worldview/cosmology, so I'm surprised that there are still so many books of his that I haven't read. This book traces the origin of our planet and the development of life on earth in order to suss out the place of humanity. The last third of the book focuses on our various primate relatives to debunk the idea that humans have any unique traits not found in the animal kingdom.

Here is an interesting quote from late in the book:
"Philosophers and scientists confidently offer up traits said to be uniquely human, and the apes casually knock them down--toppling the pretension that humans constitute some sort of biological aristocracy among the beings of Earth. Instead, we are more like the nouveau riche, incompletely accommodated to our recent exalted state, insecure about who we are, and trying to put as much distance as possible between us and our humble origins. . . So as counterweights to human arrogance and pride, it is good for us that there are still apes on Earth."

An interesting (and over 400 page) book, it was not my favorite of his. I much more strongly recommend The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

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