Life Finds a Way

How does evolutionary theory factor into human creativity?

Life finds a way : what evolution teaches us about creativity

Wagner, Andreas. Basic Books, 2019
312p bibl index, 9781541645332 $30.00, 9781541645356 $18.99

publication thumbnail image

In Life Finds a Way: What Evolution Teaches Us about Creativity, evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner (Univ. of Zurich, Switzerland) takes what has been learned about nature’s creative process and applies it to human creativity. In the first half of the book, he reviews the development of evolutionary thought since Darwin presented the theory of natural selection. Wagner describes the limitations of natural selection identified in the first half of the 20th century and the solutions proposed, such as the inclusion of genetic drift and sexual recombination, as essential mechanisms required in addition to natural selection. In doing this, he very elegantly describes the adaptive landscape metaphor created by USDA scientist Sewall Wright to illustrate the main barrier evolution faces in finding the best solutions. In the second half of the book, Wagner uses the landscape metaphor to show how humans can optimize their creative potential, providing examples in education, business, government, technological innovation, and science. This book will be most useful to those with some background in evolutionary theory.

Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
Reviewer: C. A. Lindgren, Grinnell College
Subject: Science & Technology – Biology
Choice Issue: Nov 2019