One of the most prominent figures in psychoanalytic and psychological anthropology, Melford E. Spiro has produced an oeuvre of broad theoretical and ethnographic scope. One of the few anthropologists who are also trained in psychoanalysis, he has made the study of culture and personality a distinctive theoretical approach to anthropological work and has been a consistent and forceful critic of such popular intellectual movements as structuralism, hermeneutics, cultural determinism, and symbolic anthropology.
This volume of Spiro's major theoretical writings concentrates on theories of culture and human nature, functional analysis, and religion. Spiro argues that important dimensions of the human family are the same everywhere and that a theory of human nature is both possible and necessary. He discusses religious beliefs, analyzing not only their structures but also the ways such beliefs are held and the meanings attributed to them. This analysis, Spiro shows, can be done most successfully by means of a theory of the human family, of infant and child development and socialization, of panhuman unconscious processes, and of universal psychodynamic constellations such as the Oedipus complex.
We’ve been told, again and again, that life is unfair. But what if we’re wrong simply to resign ourselves to this situation? What if we have the power—and more, the duty—to change society for the better?
We do. And our very nature inclines us to do so. That’s the provocative argument Peter Corning makes in The Fair Society. Drawing on the evidence from our evolutionary history and the emergent science of human nature, Corning shows that we have an innate sense of fairness. While these impulses can easily be subverted by greed and demagoguery, they can also be harnessed for good. Corning brings together the latest findings from the behavioral and biological sciences to help us understand how to move beyond the Madoffs and Enrons in our midst in order to lay the foundation for a new social contract—a Biosocial Contract built on a deep understanding of human nature and a commitment to fairness. He then proposes a sweeping set of economic and political reforms based on three principles of fairness—equality, equity, and reciprocity—that together could transform our society and our world.
At this crisis point for capitalism, Corning reveals that the proper response to bank bailouts and financial chicanery isn’t to get mad—it’s to get fair.
"Here is a book that I can strongly recommend for a variety of reasons. It is well written, it is scholarly, but its greatest appeal lies in the posing of an important question and in the offering of a satisfying (to this reviewer, at least) answer."—Journal of Historical Geography
"This is an intriguing and stimulating study of historical differences in the indigenous historiography of parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe."—American Anthropologist.
What is the subject-matter of political theory and how does it relate to other subject-matters, such as that of moral theory? What is the relation between political theory and political practice—between the kind of solution that a theory offers to the political problems and the kind of solution that is sought in practice through the operation of political institutions? What is the relation between scientific political theory and practical political arguments?
Human Nature and History, a monumental work in two volumes, is an attempt to analyze these relations. It is a work in meta-theory or the theory of political theory.
At the most general level, Cumming is concerned with the question of what is involved in the enterprise of political theory or political philosophy and how different conceptions of that enterprise have developed historically. More specifically, he is concerned with the format imposed on the historical development of political thought by Anglo-American liberalism, especially as represented by John Stuart Mill.
Since Cumming traces the development of political theory by reference to the relation between its subject-matter and other subject-matters, his study should be of interest to historians of thought and culture, as well as to political theorists and philosophers.
"""Engaging, provocative in the best sense, Cooke's is an excellent book."" --George Gutsche, University of Arizona
""The virtuoso merging of sociobiological ideas and standard critical techniques is an important vindication for the whole idea of a sociobiological literary criticism. This is a highly accomplished piece of literary scholarship. It will long stand as a landmark."" --Joseph Carroll, University of Missouri "
College and university professors have been demanding that this book, out of print for several years, be made available again, as it is unique in its field. This new edition, which includes a new preface and guidance to current literature, offers a balanced study of the implications of scientific developments in psychology and neuroscience for traditional Christian beliefs.
Malcolm Jeeves, former editor-in-chief of Neuropsychologia, a leading international scientific journal in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, explores the intersection of science and faith in defining what it means to be human. He reports on recent scientific research on consciousness and the link between mind, brain, and behavior. He examines issues such as determinism by indicating the possible relevance of chaos theory to enduring concerns about freedom and responsibility. He looks at similarities and differences between human nature and animal nature. He reexamines traditional dualist views of soul and body in the light of contemporary research on mind and brain and argues for a wholistic model. This leads to addressing questions such as: does spiritual awareness depend on the intactness of our brains or does spirituality stand apart from our biological substrate?
Jeeves' insightful analysis of the ways recent findings in psychology relate to certain Christian beliefs about people expands the global science religion dialogue.
Until the last century, it was generally agreed that Maimonides was a great defender of Judaism, and Spinoza—as an Enlightenment advocate for secularization—among its key opponents. However, a new scholarly consensus has recently emerged that the teachings of the two philosophers were in fact much closer than was previously thought. In his perceptive new book, Joshua Parens sets out to challenge the now predominant view of Maimonides as a protomodern forerunner to Spinoza—and to show that a chief reason to read Maimonides is in fact to gain distance from our progressively secularized worldview.
Turning the focus from Spinoza’s oft-analyzed Theologico-Political Treatise, this book has at its heart a nuanced analysis of his theory of human nature in the Ethics. Viewing this work in contrast to Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed, it makes clear that Spinoza can no longer be thought of as the founder of modern Jewish identity, nor should Maimonides be thought of as having paved the way for a modern secular worldview. Maimonides and Spinoza dramatically revises our understanding of both philosophers.
Mark Twain once claimed that he could read human character as well as he could read the Mississippi River, and he studied his fellow humans with the same devoted attention. In both his fiction and his nonfiction, he was disposed to dramatize how the human creature acts in a given environment—and to understand why.
Now one of America’s preeminent Twain scholars takes a closer look at this icon’s abiding interest in his fellow creatures. In seeking to account for how Twain might have reasonably believed the things he said he believed, Tom Quirk has interwoven the author’s inner life with his writings to produce a meditation on how Twain’s understanding of human nature evolved and deepened, and to show that this was one of the central preoccupations of his life.
Quirk charts the ways in which this humorist and occasional philosopher contemplated the subject of human nature from early adulthood until the end of his life, revealing how his outlook changed over the years. His travels, his readings in history and science, his political and social commitments, and his own pragmatic testing of human nature in his writing contributed to Twain’s mature view of his kind. Quirk establishes the social and scientific contexts that clarify Twain’s thinking, and he considers not only Twain’s stated intentions about his purposes in his published works but also his ad hoc remarks about the human condition.
Viewing both major and minor works through the lens of Twain’s shifting attitude, Quirk provides refreshing new perspectives on the master’s oeuvre. He offers a detailed look at the travel writings, including The Innocents Abroad and Following the Equator, and the novels, including The Adventures ofTom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Pudd’nhead Wilson, as well as an important review of works from Twain’s last decade, including fantasies centering on man’s insignificance in Creation, works preoccupied with isolation—notably No. 44,The Mysterious Stranger and “Eve’s Diary”—and polemical writings such as What Is Man?
Comprising the well-seasoned reflections of a mature scholar, this persuasive and eminently readable study comes to terms with the life-shaping ideas and attitudes of one of America’s best-loved writers. Mark Twain and Human Nature offers readers a better understanding of Twain’s intellect as it enriches our understanding of his craft and his ineluctable humor.
Volume 14of The Middle Works of John Dewey, 1899–1924,series provides an authoritative edition of Dewey’s Human Nature and Conduct. A Modern Language Association Committee on Scholarly Editions textual edition.
Human Nature and Conduct evolved from the West Memorial Foundation lectures at Stanford University. The lectures were extensively rewritten and expanded into one of Dewey’s best-known works. As Murray G. Murphey says in his Introduction, “It was a work in which Dewey sought to make explicit the social character of his psychology and philosophy—something which had long been evident but never so clearly spelled out.”
Subtitled “An Introduction to Social Psychology,” Human Nature and Conduct sets forth Dewey’s view that habits are social functions, and that social phenomena, such as habit and custom and scientific methods of inquiry are moral and natural. Dewey concludes, “Within the flickering inconsequential acts of separate selves dwells a sense of the whole which claims and dignifies them. In its presence we put off mortality and live in the universal.”
Plato asked, "How shall a man live?" In this volume, Robert J. McShea offers an important, serious, and controversial answer to that perennial question. In this inquiry into the origins of human values, the author argues that values are based on emotions rather than on reason. The human ability to recall the past, to imagine future consequences of actions, and to be aware simultaneously of present, past, and probable future feelings form the basis of moral judgments. What is truly valuable to humans is a consequence of their species nature; thus, moral theory is the study of that nature. This is what McShea calls the human nature tradition, from "know thyself": to "the noblest study of man is man." Using ethology (studies of animal behavior), the author seeks to remind the reader of the significance of species being to the understanding of all creatures, and thus of ourselves. In viewing moral values as arising from human nature, McShea challenges a number of influential theories-notably, the belief that values are products of culture. Written out of a growing sense that our society finds itself in a moral and social limbo, Morality and Human Nature aurges that we start afresh and calls us to a continual reassessment of mores and social practices in the light of their adaptability to human feeling.
This volume is a critical edition of the 1587 treatise by Oliva Sabuco, New Philosophy of Human Nature, written during the Spanish Inquisition. Puzzled by medicine’s abject failure to find a cure for the plague, Sabuco developed a new theory of human nature as the foundation for her remarkably modern holistic philosophy of medicine.
Fifty years before Descartes, Sabuco posited a dualism that accounted for mind/body interaction. She was first among the moderns to argue that the brain--not the heart--controls the body. Her account also anticipates the role of cerebrospinal fluid, the relationship between mental and physical health, and the absorption of nutrients through digestion. This extensively annotated translation features an ample introduction demonstrating the work’s importance to the history of science, philosophy of medicine, and women’s studies.
In his new preface E. O. Wilson reflects on how he came to write this book: how The Insect Societies led him to write Sociobiology, and how the political and religious uproar that engulfed that book persuaded him to write another book that would better explain the relevance of biology to the understanding of human behavior.
The Open Mind chronicles the development and promulgation of a scientific vision of the rational, creative, and autonomous self, demonstrating how this self became a defining feature of Cold War culture. Jamie Cohen-Cole illustrates how from 1945 to 1965 policy makers and social critics used the idea of an open-minded human nature to advance centrist politics. They reshaped intellectual culture and instigated nationwide educational reform that promoted more open, and indeed more human, minds. The new field of cognitive science was central to this project, as it used popular support for open-mindedness to overthrow the then-dominant behaviorist view that the mind either could not be studied scientifically or did not exist. Cognitive science also underwrote the political implications of the open mind by treating it as the essential feature of human nature.
While the open mind unified America in the first two decades after World War II, between 1965 and 1975 battles over the open mind fractured American culture as the ties between political centrism and the scientific account of human nature began to unravel. During the late 1960s, feminists and the New Left repurposed Cold War era psychological tools to redefine open-mindedness as a characteristic of left-wing politics. As a result, once-liberal intellectuals became neoconservative, and in the early 1970s, struggles against open-mindedness gave energy and purpose to the right wing.
Can people ever really change? Do they ever become more ethical, and if so, how? Overcoming Our Evil focuses on the way ethical and religious commitments are conceived and nurtured through the methodical practices that Pierre Hadot has called "spiritual exercises." These practices engage thought, imagination, and sensibility, and have a significant ethical component, yet aim for a broader transformation of the whole personality. Going beyond recent philosophical and historical work that has focused on ancient Greco-Roman philosophy, Stalnaker broadens ethical inquiry into spiritual exercises by examining East Asian as well as classical Christian sources, and taking religious and seemingly "aesthetic" practices such as prayer, ritual, and music more seriously as objects of study.
More specifically, Overcoming Our Evil examines and compares the thought and practice of the early Christian Augustine of Hippo, and the early Confucian Xunzi. Both have sophisticated and insightful accounts of spiritual exercises, and both make such ethical work central to their religious thought and practice. Yet to understand the two thinkers' recommendations for cultivating virtue we must first understand some important differences. Here Stalnaker disentangles the competing aspects of Augustine and Xunxi's ideas of "human nature." His groundbreaking comparison of their ethical vocabularies also drives a substantive analysis of fundamental issues in moral psychology, especially regarding emotion and the complex idea of "the will," to examine how our dispositions to feel, think, and act might be slowly transformed over time. The comparison meticulously constructs vivid portraits of both thinkers demonstrating where they connect and where they diverge, making the case that both have been misunderstood and misinterpreted. In throwing light on these seemingly disparate ancient figures in unexpected ways, Stalnaker redirects recent debate regarding practices of personal formation, and more clearly exposes the intellectual and political issues involved in the retrieval of "classic" ethical sources in diverse contemporary societies, illuminating a path toward a contemporary understanding of difference.
In sixteenth-century Northern Europe, during a time of increasing religious and political conflict, Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel explored how people perceived human nature. Bruegel turned his critical eye and peerless paintbrush to mankind’s labors and pleasures, its foibles and rituals of daily life, portraying landscapes, peasant life, and biblical scenes in startling detail. Much like the great humanist scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam, Bruegel questioned how well we really know ourselves and also how we know, or visually read, others. His work often represented mankind’s ignorance and insignificance, emphasizing the futility of ambition and the absurdity of pride.
This superbly illustrated volume examines how Bruegel’s art and ideas enabled people to ponder what it meant to be human. Published to coincide with the four-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of Bruegel’s death, it will appeal to all those interested in art and philosophy, the Renaissance, and Flemish painting.
Weaving together stories of science and sociology, The Selfish Ape offers a refreshing response to common fantasies about the ascent of humanity. Rather than imagining modern humans as a species with godlike powers, or Homo deus, Nicholas P. Money recasts us as Homo narcissus—paragons of self-absorption. This exhilarating story offers an immense sweep of modern biology, leading readers from earth’s unexceptional location in the cosmos to the story of our microbial origins and the innerworkings of the human body. It explores human genetics, reproduction, brain function, and aging, creating an enlightened view of man as a brilliantly inventive, yet self-destructive animal.
The Selfish Ape is a book about human biology, the intertwined characteristics of our greatness and failure, and the way that we have plundered the biosphere. Written in a highly accessible style, it is a perfect read for those interested in science, human history, sociology, and the environment.