Shortlisted for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2020
From the prize-winning author of Adventures in the Anthropocene, the astonishing story of how culture enabled us to become the most successful species on Earth
Humans are the most successful species on Earth; a planet-altering force of nature. Meanwhile, our closest living relatives, the now-endangered chimpanzees, continue to live as they have for millions of years. Yet we evolved through the same process. What are we then? And now we have remade the world, what are we becoming?
Setting out to answer this question, Gaia Vince retells our evolution story. Unlike any other species on earth we determine the course of our own destiny, something that she argues rests on a special relationship between our genes, environment and culture going back into deep time. It is our collective culture, rather than our individual intelligence, that makes humans unique. Vince shows how our four evolutionary drivers - Fire, Language, Beauty and Time - are further transforming our species into a superorganism: a hyper-cooperative mass of humanity that she calls Homo omnis, or 'Homni'. Drawing on cutting-edge advances in population genetics, archaeology, palaeontology and neuroscience, Transcendencecompels us to reimagine ourselves, showing us to be on the brink of something grander - and potentially more destructive.
To think of humans as a smarter sort of chimp with cool tools is to miss what is truly extraordinary about us. Look around you: we are the intelligent designers of all you see - including ourselves.