Auto Simple and secure cloud storage giftguide boutiques-francophones Kitchen Kindle Black Friday Deals Week in Music SGG Tools
Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
CDN$ 32.58
  • List Price: CDN$ 45.95
  • You Save: CDN$ 13.37 (29%)
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Life's Solution: Inevitab... has been added to your Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe Paperback – Nov 8 2004

12 customer reviews

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
CDN$ 32.58
CDN$ 32.58 CDN$ 37.53

Black Friday Deals Week in Books

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (Nov. 8 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521603250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521603256
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 807 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #407,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

In a crisp, passionate argument sure to draw the wrath of many biologists, Simon Conway Morris defends his belief that evolutionary science is misguided without a somewhat religious notion of the significance of human intelligence and existence. At the same time, he is careful to distance himself from creation "scientists" by reminding readers that:

Evolution is true, it happens, it is the way the world is, and we too are one of its products. This does not mean that evolution does not have metaphysical implications; I remain convinced that this is the case.

He uses convergence as his foundation, defining it as "the recurrent tendency of biological organization to arrive at the same 'solution' to a particular 'need'" and offering a multitude of examples, including eusociality, olfaction, and the generation of electrical fields. In outlining the direction and inevitability he believes is inherent in evolution, Conway Morris stacks up compelling evidence in the form of a revealed "protein hyperspace" that limits the possibilities of amino acid combination to a few, often repeated (pre-ordained?) forms. While he skirts a focus on the relentless environmental pressures that result in adaptation, Conway Morris also derides the notion that the gene rules evolution. He accuses his opponents (primarily Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins) "genetic fundamentalism" who use "sleights of hand, special pleading, and sanctimoniousness... trying to smuggle back the moral principle through the agency of the gene." Dense with examples and complex biological proofs, Life's Solution is not an easy explanation of convergence for general readers. Still, it is a clear and exciting elucidation of the theory that evolution might have predictable outcomes, even for those who find Conway Morris' metaphysical arguments unconvincing. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Life's Solution is an absorbing presentation written to challenge and inform the mind of the reader. Life's Solution is a superb contribution to both Contemporary Philosophy Studies academic reference collections and University level and Evolutionary Biology reading lists." Is Library Bookwatch, December 2003

"Simon Conway Morris's bold new book, Life's Solution, challenges this Darwinian orthodoxy by extending ideas he presented in his Crucible of Creation. Conway Morris presents scores of fascinating examples that are less familiar. The lesson is clear. The living world is peppered with recurrent themes; it is not an accumulation of unique events." -- New York Times Book Review

"Simon Conway Morris's bold new book, Life's Solution, challenges [the] Darwinian orthodoxy by extending ideas he presented in his 'Crucible of Creation'...Conway Morris presents scores of fascinating examples that are less familiar. The lesson is clear. The living world is peppered wtih recurrent themes; it is not an accumulation of unique events." New York Times Book Review

"Are human beings the insignificant products of countless quirky biological accidents, or the expected result of evolutionary patterns deeply embedded in the structure of natural selection? Drawing upon diverse biological evidence, Conway Morris convincingly argues that the general features of our bodies and minds are indeed written into the laws of the universe. This is a truly inspiring book, and a welcome antidote to the bleak nihilism of the ultra-Darwinists." Paul Davies, Author of Mind of God

Praise for previous book... "Having spent four centuries taking the world to bits and trying to find out what makes it tick, in the 21st century scientists are now trying to fit the pieces together and understand why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Simon Conway Morris provides the best overview, from a biolgical viewpoint, of how complexity on the large scale arises from simple laws on the small scale, and why creatures like us may not be the accidents that many suppose. This is the most important book about evolution since The Selfish Gene; essential reading for everyone who has wondered about why we are here in a Universe that seems tailor-made for life. John Gribbin, Author of Science: A History

"Morris gives a detailed and fascinating account of numerous examples of evolutionary convergence, ranging in scale and complexity from molecular functions to physiology, morphology, sensory organs, behavior, complex social systems, and, finally, intelligence. Highly recommended for both academic and larger public libraries." Library Journal

"If you have not done so ... read Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe." Toronto, Ontario Globe & Mail

See all Product Description

Inside This Book

(Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
First Sentence
I am a bipedal hominid , of average cranial capacity, write my manuscripts with a fountain pen, and loathe jogging. Read the first page
Explore More
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Aulenbrock on June 15 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe," by Simon Conway Morris, received a critical review from a mainstream evolutionary biologist in SCIENCE, 5 December 2003. It was stated that many biologists may be convinced that Conway Morris is giving aid and comfort to the enemy (the creationists). The reviewer saw that Conway Morris opposes creationism, but was still critical.
I can see that the book might be irritating to materialists (scientific or otherwise), but if its sometimes-controversial tone is overlooked, it has much to offer the general reader. When Conway Morris takes a position that is not orthodox, it is usually qualified with a question mark. I think the major positive contribution of the book is its many fascinating examples of convergence.
There is a remarkable relationship between the views of Stephen Jay Gould in "Wonderful Life," published in 1989, and those of Conway Morris in "Life's Solution," published in 2003. Conway Morris opposes Gould's idea of contingency. But the strange thing is that Gould, while claiming support for contingency from the Cambrian fauna, praised the work of Conway Morris on that fauna.
From the time of the Cambrian explosion of animal forms to the present there has been a marked reduction in the number of general forms. Gould would take this as evidence of the fragility of forms in the face of chance contingencies. But Conway Morris sees it as a consequence of convergence. The two men seemingly differ only in their conclusions from the evidence, but I think there is a deeper divide. To Gould nature is fundamentally probabilistic, but to Conway Morris it is deterministic. I agree, recalling that Einstein championed determinism in physics.
Gould used the idea of replaying the tape of evolution.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Morris, a well-known evolutionist, challenges those biologists who argue that life and intelligence on Earth are the products of chance events. Citing many examples of biological convergence, he argues that evolutionary outcomes are constrained, not infinite in potential number. Sooner or later, evolution on Earth would have produced intelligent beings; if not in primates, then from some other lineage. While perhaps a bit overstated, this argument is a useful counter to the prevailing theory that evolution is a completely random process. However, Morris does not extend that inevitability to other worlds. He believes that the Earth itself may be unique because of a mixture of advantages such as a large moon.
Morris argues that evolution may have purpose, that life is not just a bleak working out of statistics. In his last chapter, he writes that "there has been a resurgence of interest in the connections that might serve to reunify the scientific world with the religious instinct." This connection of evolution to religion may make some readers uncomfortable. While Morris' writing style is generally lively, his digressions into the details of biology may leave behind non-scientist readers.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Life's Solution is one of those books that does not easily submit to a pithy review. The book is many things. It is first of all a striking and elegantly written catalogue of what Conway Morris calls "the ubiquity of convergence" in the biological world.
While many folks are familiar with a handful of examples of convergence (the camera eye and those marsupials in Australia come to mind), it is remarkable how pervasive the phenomenon is. In fact, although I still don't know what to make of it, Conway Morris convinced me that convergence is a fact about the world that deserves more attention than it has received.
But the book is much more than a mere compendium of examples. For Conway Morris uses the ubiquity of convergence as a counterweight to the almost orthodox view that the history of life is a governed by a large helping of luck and accident, and that, to paraphrase S.J. Gould, if we reran the tape of life's history, it would have turned out entirely differently. Convergence suggests that, whatever the role played by happenstance, natural selection has worked under narrow constraints built into the structure of reality.
Conway Morris concludes the book with some perhaps preliminary discussions about the possibility of religious and scientific understandings of the world peacefully co-existing. Here as elswhere, Conway Morris only hints at certain ideas rather than pursuing them exhaustively. As a result, some reviewers have written unfair and uncharitable things about the book. But I, for one, was left with much to ponder, and with the hope that Conway Morris will continue his provocative explorations.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Report abuse
By A Customer on Jan. 15 2004
Format: Hardcover
Cambridge paleontologist Simon Conway Morris in this book covers convergence and its implications for understanding evolution. Convergence (also called homoplasy) is the independent evolution of similar traits among distantly related organisms such as humans and octopi have similar eye anatomy (although one is inverted, the other verted). Life is replete with examples of convergence on every level: molecular, cellular, even behavioral. Convergence is the key to understanding that evolution, despite its tremendous variety, is fraught with direction, or shall we dare say, purpose. It is a bold statement that will undoubtedly receive a strong reaction from the bulk of the evolutionary community. Morris uses almost half of the book to discuss the building blocks of life (DNA, RNA, proteins, and sugars such as ribose) .He shows that, although these building blocks are very easy to synthesize, this does not help us to understand the origin of life, which, he argues persuasively, is about as unlikely an event as can be conceived. Every approach we have taken to understand how life could have originated now seems at a dead end. Morris spends one chapter looking at the uniqueness of our planet and concludes, as does Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee, that life of any kind is a phenomenally unlikely state of affairs anywhere in the universe. While upholding an adaptationist view, Morris labels adherents of the cold, ruthless, and ultimately purposeless evolutionary reality, such as Huxley, Simpson, Mayr, Ernst Haeckel, Clarence Darrow, and even Richard Dawkins as "ultra-Darwinists". He finds fault with the religious fervor of their pronouncements, and their utter ignorance of theology. Convergence, argues Morris, tells us that a Higher Purpose controls Nature.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Report abuse

Most recent customer reviews