Nature's Oracle: The Life and Work of W.D. Hamilton

ISBN : 9780198607281

Ullica Segerstrale
464 ページ
154 x 231 mm

W.D.Hamilton (1936-2000) was responsible for a revolution in thinking about evolutionary biology - a revolution that changed our understanding of life itself. He played a central role in the realization that what matters in evolution is not the survival of the individual but of the survival of its genes. This provided the solution to the long standing problem of animal altruism that vexed even Darwin himself, and in due course resulted in terms like selfish genes, kin selection, and sociobiology becoming familiar to a wider public. Hamilton went on to solve many more major problems, and open up ever new fields - he shaped much of our current understanding of central problems including the evolution of sexual reproduction and ageing. He became world famous and garnered international prizes. But this is all in hindsight. In fact, Hamilton's recognition came late - his career is a classic case of misunderstood genius. In this illuminating and moving biography Ullica Segerstrale documents Hamilton's extraordinary life and work, revealing a man of immense intellectual curiosity, an uncompromising truth-seeker, a naturalist and jungle explorer, a risk-taker, an unconventional scientist with a poet's soul and a deep concern for life on earth and mankind's future.


1. Growing up at Oaklea
2. Finding Life's Pattern
3. Schoolboy at Tonbridge
4. Fisher Found and Lost
5. The Struggle for Altruism
6. Altruism through the Looking Glass
7. Brazilian Break
8. Sex and Death
9. Challenges of Social Life
10. The Price Effect
11. Creativity in a Tight Spot
12. Priority Matters
13. When Leaving is Better than Staying
14. Encounters with Sociobiology
15. The Parasite Paradigm
16. Cooperation without Kinship
17. The Oxford Move
18. Defending the Queen
19. In Tune With Nature
20. Truth at any Price
21. Creative Strategies
22. Through a Glass Darkly
23. The Final Defiance
24. The Edge of Creativity


Ullica Segerstrale is Professor of Sociology at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences. She has published widely on the history and the sociology of science: her publications include Defenders of the truth: The battle for science in the sociobiology debate and beyond (Oxford, 2000), Beyond the science wars: The missing discourse about science and society (SUNY Press, 2000, as editor), and Nonverbal communication: Where nature meets culture (Erlbaum, 1997, as co-editor). Segerstrale holds a PhD in sociology from Harvard, a MA in communications from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MS in organic chemistry from the University of Helsinki. She is a Fulbright Fellow, a fellow of the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, and the receipient of a Senior Researcher Grant from the Academy of Finland, Helsinki.