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Catastrophic ThinkingExtinction and the Value of Diversity from Darwin to the Anthropocene$
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David Sepkoski

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226348612

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226354613.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 07 July 2022

Introduction: Why Extinction Matters

Introduction: Why Extinction Matters

(p.1) Introduction: Why Extinction Matters
(p.iii) Catastrophic Thinking

David Sepkoski

University of Chicago Press

This introduction presents the main argument for the book: that cultural values and scientific theories about extinction have been intertwined over the past 200 years, and have influenced the way Western societies have constructed values around diversity and have shaped how they have imagined human futures. This collective scientific and cultural understanding of extinction can be considered an "imaginary": a web of values and beliefs that conditions the way we experience the social, political, and natural worlds. Extinction imaginaries, this introduction argues, have shifted over time, responding to and influencing both scientific and cultural appreciations of diversity, risk, and crisis in a variety of contexts.

Keywords:   extinction, catastrophe, diversity, cultural imagination

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