Yves-Alain Fontaine

The Sentimental Evolution Publication date : May 1, 1996

Biological evolution is the great adventure of Life, as it is for human thought: of this, each one of us is living proof. More often than not, specialists in Evolution are geneticists or biologists who stress the importance of genes or demography as the origin of the so called synthetic, neo Darwinian theory of Evolution. According to this theory, Evolution is reduced to a selection of various random genetic combinations a notion which, according to Yves Alain Fontaine, entirely ignores the importance of the individual. Sensitized by his profession to the nuances of man's functioning and interaction with his external environment, physiologist Yves Alain Fontaine presents a compelling study of the role that living individuals themselves play in Evolution. In the course of development, our way of living is fashioned by the world around us, but it is also shaped by discrete characteristics such as nature and the intensity of emotions like anxiety and egoism. From this point of departure, the author draws analogies about the ways in which we are human individuals and members of a species, and proffers the theory that, in the evolutionary process, there is also a sort of anxiety and egoism at work. Evolution, he suggests, might very well be both sentimental and selective.

Yves Alain Fontaine is an honorary professor at the National Museum of Natural History, where he served as the longtime director of the Laboratory of general and comparative physiology as well as the comparative endocrinology department associated with the CNRS.