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Cover for The Human Scaffold

The Human Scaffold

How Not to Design Your Way Out of a Climate Crisis (Great Transformations #2)

Josh Berson


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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (3/23/2021)


Humanity has precipitated a planetary crisis of resource consumption—a crisis of stuff. So ingrained is our stuff-centric view that we can barely imagine a way out beyond substituting a new portmanteau of material things for the one we have today.

In The Human Scaffold, anthropologist Josh Berson offers a new theory of adaptation to environmental change. Drawing on niche construction, evolutionary game theory, and the enactive view of cognition, Berson considers cases in the archaeology of adaptation in which technology in the conventional sense was virtually absent. Far from representing anomalies, these cases exemplify an enduring feature of human behavior that has implications for our own fate.

The time has come to ask what the environmental crisis demands of us not as consumers but as biological beings. The Human Scaffold offers a starting point.


Praise For The Human Scaffold: How Not to Design Your Way Out of a Climate Crisis (Great Transformations #2)

“Berson's mind is on display in all its brilliance and eccentricity. Be prepared. . . . Berson's analytical discernment of contemporary culture burying ourselves with ‘stuff’ and mindlessly devouring the world's natural resources rings with descriptive eloquence. . . . Keep writing, Josh Berson. We need you."
— National Catholic Reporter Online

University of California Press, 9780520380493, 248pp.

Publication Date: March 23, 2021

About the Author

Josh Berson has held appointments at two Max Planck Institutes—Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, and the History of Science—and at the Berggruen Institute, where he was inaugural USC Berggruen Fellow in the Transformations of the Human. He is the author of The Meat Question: Animals, Humans, and the Deep History of Food and Computable Bodies: Instrumented Life and the Human Somatic Niche.