Thinking about extinction

From Public Books: "Extinction has never been a purely scientific concept. When theories of extinction exploded onto the Western intellectual scene in the early 19th century, they upended a reassuring view of nature as more or less fixed and stable. Since antiquity, it had seemed that human history might ebb and flow, that civilizations might rise and fall, but that nature, at least, always had been and always would be the same. But with the appearance of spectacular fossils — championed, most famously, by Georges Cuvier — this stability suddenly disappeared. … Nature itself suddenly appeared subject to the same uncertain temporality, possessed of the same self-destructive energy, as human society."

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