Thursday, January 1, 2015

Good news for Jane Goodall fans in 2015

2015 will see the publication of The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall, edited by Dale Peterson and Marc Bekoff, described as "more than 100 testimonies by Goodall’s friends and colleagues honoring her as a scientific pioneer, inspiring teacher, and engaging spirit."

The concept of this forthcoming book on Jane Goodall is fascinating. It seems like an solid premise that Jane Goodall has had a substantial influence on people, science and society, to the point that the power of that influence is worthy of the title "the Jane effect." But how do we define the nature of influence that makes one person hugely influential and another not? What is it in Jane Goodall that inspires unusual and substantial influence? In her public presentations, Jane Goodall speaks simply, directly and intimately to thousands of people together at one time as someone whose essence is felt immediately, but what is the "complex personality" in her that the editors of this book about Goodall say "breaks down usual categories?" Is this a Goodall that we have not seen before? Is this a type of influence at a moment that it was needed for some reason that breaks some kind of boundary?

The study of the influence of a person like Jane Goodall will likely take the study of Jane Goodall in a new direction. The reason for that is that the study of the influence of a person is different from the study of what the person did. A biography of Jane Goodall -- the one by Dale Peterson is exceptional for its thoroughness, as well as having been done with the full co-operation of Goodall -- is intended to be a record of what Goodall did, no matter how that was received. Sometimes the reception of what a person did can take years and even centuries to achieve its full effect. A biography thus should be true to the person who is the subject of the biography. But influence is not only about what the person did to influence others; it is also about the way in which the person being influenced was receptive to influence and the way the spirit of the time was receptive to being influenced. In other words, the significance of influence is true to the person being influenced and true to the spirit of the time. So what is it in Jane Goodall that has struck a chord and what is it in Jane Goodall that is being ignored?

Thus there is much to be excited about in the anticipation of this new book about Jane Goodall. Given the concept of this book and the expertise of the two editors of this collection, Dale Peterson and Marc Bekoff, with their own considerable individual contributions as writers, this is a book that should be on the top of the reading list for 2015.

URL link to the book with Trinity Unity Press: