This is the third in the series of volumes of essays that Robin Fox began with Reproduction and Succession and continued with The Challenge of Anthropology. Fox who has been described as "the conscience of anthropology" continues to have the same aim: to expose readers in the social sciences and beyond to the consequences of "the biosocial orientation," and to assess the "state of the art" in anthropology in particular and the social sciences in general.
As always he encompasses a wide range of topics: Why do bureaucracies fail? Are we really an innovative animal? Is nationalism a purely constructed phenomenon? What is the role of sexual competition in epic literature? In all these enquiries he tries to show in non-technical language how the evolutionary approach throws new light on old problems--and even raises new and more interesting problems. He pursues the issue of whether we have a naturally developed moral sense, and if so what it could possibly be (on the way attempting a definitive definition of the good); he looks at the status of the idea of self-interest in economic and biological science; he examines the current state of archaeology as a basis for a renewed scientific anthropology; and he tries to adjudicate the debate between the scientific and humanistic camps in the social sciences.