This book sheds new light on the problem of how the human mind evolved. Harry Smit argues that current studies of this problem misguidedly try to solve it by using variants of the Cartesian conception of the mind, and shows that combining the Aristotelian conception with Darwin's theory provides us with far more interesting answers. He discusses the core problem of how we can understand language evolution in terms of inclusive fitness theory, and investigates how scientific and conceptual insights can be integrated into one explanatory framework, which he contrasts with the alternative Cartesian-derived framework. He then explores the differences between these explanatory frameworks with reference to co-operation and conflict at different levels of biological organization, the evolution of communicative behaviour, the human mind, language, and moral behaviour. His book will interest advanced students and scholars in a range of subjects including philosophy, biology and psychology.
If evolution has changed humans physically, has it also affected human behavior? Drawing on evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, and human behavioral ecology, Human Nature and the Evolution of Society explores the evolutionary dynamics underlying social life. In this introduction to human behavior and the organization of social life, Stephen K. Sanderson discusses traditional subjects like mating behavior, kinship, parenthood, status-seeking, and violence, as well as important topics seldom included in books of this type, especially gender, economies, politics, foodways, race and ethnicity, and the arts. Examples and research on a wide range of human societies, both industrial and nonindustrial, are integrated throughout. With chapter summaries of key points, thoughtful discussion questions, and important terms defined within the text, the result is a broad-ranging and comprehensive consideration of human society, thoroughly grounded in an evolutionary perspective.
The authors assert that traditional sociological theories of human nature and society do not pay sufficient attention to the evolution of "big-brained hominoids," resulting in assumptions about humans' propensity for "groupness" that go against the record of primate evolution. When this record is analyzed in detail, and is supplemented by a review of the social structures of contemporary apes and the basic types of human societies (hunter-gathering, horticultural, agrarian, and industrial), commonplace criticisms about the de-humanizing effects of industrial society appear overdrawn, if not downright incorrect. The book concludes that the mistakes in contemporary social theory - as well as much of general social commentary - stem from a failure to analyze humans as "big-brained" apes with certain phylogenetic tendencies. This failure is usually coupled with a willingness to romanticize societies of the past, notably horticultural and agrarian systems
How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
Author: Geoffrey Miller
At once a pioneering study of evolution and an accessible and lively reading experience, The Mating Mind marks the arrival of a prescient and provocative new science writer. Psychologist Geoffrey Miller offers the most convincing–and radical–explanation for how and why the human mind evolved. Consciousness, morality, creativity, language, and art: these are the traits that make us human. Scientists have traditionally explained these qualities as merely a side effect of surplus brain size, but Miller argues that they were sexual attractors, not side effects. He bases his argument on Darwin’ s theory of sexual selection, which until now has played second fiddle to Darwin’ s theory of natural selection, and draws on ideas and research from a wide range of fields, including psychology, economics, history, and pop culture. Witty, powerfully argued, and continually thought-provoking, The Mating Mind is a landmark in our understanding of our own species.
In this book, Jonathan H. Turner combines sociology, evolutionary biology, cladistic analysis from biology, and comparative neuroanatomy to examine human nature as inherited from common ancestors shared by humans and present-day great apes. Selection pressures altered this inherited legacy for the ancestors of humans—termed hominins for being bipedal—and forced greater organization than extant great apes when the hominins moved into open-country terrestrial habitats. The effects of these selection pressures increased hominin ancestors’ emotional capacities through greater social and group orientation. This shift, in turn, enabled further selection for a larger brain, articulated speech, and culture along the human line. Turner elaborates human nature as a series of overlapping complexes that are the outcome of the inherited legacy of great apes being fed through the transforming effects of a larger brain, speech, and culture. These complexes, he shows, can be understood as the cognitive complex, the psychological complex, the emotions complex, the interaction complex, and the community complex.
Evolutionary Theory and Human Nature is an original, highly theoretical work dealing with the transition from genes to behavior using general principles of evolution, especially those of sexual selection. It seeks to develop a seamless transition from genes to human motivations as bio-electric brain processes (emotional-cognitive processes), to human nature propensities (various constellations of emotional-cognitive forces, desires and fears) to species typical patterns of behavior. This work covers two often antagonistic fields: biology and the social sciences. It should be of strong interest to anthropologists, sociologists, sociobiologists, psychobiologists and psychologists who are interested in the question of human nature influences on social behavior.
The effort to understand human nature in a political context is a daunting challenge that has been undertaken in a variety of ways and by a myriad of disciplines through the ages. From Plato to Hobbes and Burke, to Wallas and Oakeschott in our era, efforts have been made to provide some organic framework for the political study of mankind. What has added greatly to the complexity of the task is the increasing denial, even rejection, in the positivist and behaviorist traditions, of the very notion of a human nature. The work can be described as a series of interlocking propositions: the proverbial view of human nature can be explained by evolutionary theory. Biological differences between men and women are responsible for family, community and group life. Social evolution goes through stages which are recapitulated in the moral life of individuals. A well-defined federal system mirrors human development. And finally, for Fleming, most problems in social and political life stem from violations of this federalist system. Fleming's volume takes up a variety of issues: sex and gender differences, democracy and dictatorship, individual and familial patterns of association. He does so in the context of showing how forms of legitimate authority such as families, communities and nations establish such authority by appeals to human nature, and that these appeals, while presumably resting on empirical evidence, also confirm the existence of normative structures. Fleming's work is an effort of synthesis that is sure to arouse discussion and debate. It represents a serious addition to a literature retrieved from the historical dustbins to which it has been repeatedly consigned.
The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought
Author: Carl N. Degler
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1972, and a past president of both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, Carl Degler is one of America's most eminent living historians. He is also one of the most versatile. In a forty year career, he has written brilliantly on race (Neither Black Nor White, which won the Pulitzer Prize), women's studies (At Odds, which Betty Friedan called "a stunning book"), Southern history (The Other South), the New Deal, and many other subjects. Now, in The Search for Human Nature, Degler turns to perhaps his largest subject yet, a sweeping history of the impact of Darwinism (and biological research) on our understanding of human nature, providing a fascinating overview of the social sciences in the last one hundred years. The idea of a biological root to human nature was almost universally accepted at the turn of the century, Degler points out, then all but vanished from social thought only to reappear in the last four decades. Degler traces the early history of this idea, from Darwin's argument that our moral and emotional life evolved from animals just as our human shape did, to William James's emphasis on instinct in human behavior (then seen as a fundamental insight of psychology). We also see the many applications of biology, from racism, sexism, and Social Darwinism to the rise of intelligence testing, the eugenics movement, and the practice of involuntary sterilization of criminals (a public policy pioneered in America, which had sterilization laws 25 years before Nazi Germany--one such law was upheld by Oliver Wendell Holmes's Supreme Court). Degler then examines the work of those who denied any role for biology, who thought culture shaped human nature, a group ranging from Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead, to John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner. Equally important, he examines the forces behind this fundamental shift in a scientific paradigm, arguing that ideological reasons--especially the struggle against racism and sexism in America--led to this change in scientific thinking. Finally, Degler considers the revival of Darwinism without the Social Darwinism, racism, and sexism, led first by ethologists such as Karl von Frisch, Nikolaas Tinbergen, Konrad Lorenz, and Jane Goodall--who revealed clear parallels between animal and human behavior--and followed in varying degrees by such figures as Melvin Konner, Alice Rossi, Jerome Kagen, and Edward O. Wilson as well as others in anthropology, political science, sociology, and economics. What kind of animal is Homo sapiens and how did we come to be this way? In this wide ranging history, Carl Degler traces our attempts over the last century to answer these questions. In doing so, he has produced a volume that will fascinate anyone curious about the nature of human beings.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
A look at the implications of sex and human nature draws on cutting-edge research to detail the evolution of sex in plants and animals and to illustrate how it influences our intellect, our choice of mates, and our social structure.
How reading the Bible as a work of cultural and scientific evolution can reveal new truths about how our species conquered the Earth The Bible is the bestselling book of all time. It has been venerated -- or excoriated -- as God's word, but so far no one has read the Bible for what it is: humanity's diary, chronicling our ancestors' valiant attempts to cope with the trials and tribulations of life on Earth. In The Good Book of Human Nature, evolutionary anthropologist Carel van Schaik and historian Kai Michel advance a new view of Homo sapiens' cultural evolution. The Bible, they argue, was written to make sense of the single greatest change in history: the transition from egalitarian hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies. Religion arose as a strategy to cope with the unprecedented levels of epidemic disease, violence, inequality, and injustice that confronted us when we abandoned the bush -- and which still confront us today. Armed with the latest findings from cognitive science, evolutionary biology, archeology, and religious history, van Schaik and Michel take us on a journey through the Book of Books, from the Garden of Eden all the way to Golgotha. The Book of Genesis, they reveal, marked the emergence of private property-one can no longer take the fruit off any tree, as one could before agriculture. The Torah as a whole is the product of a surprisingly logical, even scientific, approach to society's problems. This groundbreaking perspective allows van Schaik and Michel to coax unexpected secrets from the familiar stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Abraham and Moses, Jesus of Nazareth and Mary. The Bible may have a dark side, but in van Schaik and Michel's hands, it proves to be a hallmark of human indefatigability. Provocative and deeply original, The Good Book of Human Nature offers a radically new understanding of the Bible. It shows that the Bible is more than just a pillar for religious belief: it is a pioneering attempt at scientific inquiry.
Is human nature something that the natural and social sciences aim to describe, or is it a pernicious fiction? What role, if any, does 'human nature' play in directing and informing scientific work? Can we talk about human nature without invoking-either implicitly or explicitly-a contrast with human culture? It might be tempting to think that the respectability of 'human nature' is an issue that divides natural and social scientists along disciplinary boundaries, but the truth is more complex. The contributors to this collection take very different stances with regard to the idea of human nature. They come from the fields of psychology, the philosophy of science, social and biological anthropology, evolutionary theory, and the study of animal cognition. Some of them are 'human nature' enthusiasts, some are sceptics, and some say that human nature is a concept with many faces, each of which plays a role in its own investigative niche. Some want to eliminate the notion altogether, some think it unproblematic, others want to retain it with reforming modifications. Some say that human nature is a target for investigation that the human sciences cannot do without, others argue that the term does far more harm than good. The diverse perspectives articulated in this book help to explain why we disagree about human nature, and what, if anything, might resolve that disagreement.
This book compares two competing theories of human nature: the more traditional theory espoused in different forms by centuries of western philosophy and the newer, Darwinian model. In the traditional view, the human being is a hybrid being, with a lower, animal nature and a higher, rational or “spiritual” component. The competing Darwinian account does away with the idea of a higher nature and attempts to provide a complete reduction of human nature to the evolutionary goals of survival and reproduction. Whitley Kaufman presents the case that the traditional conception, regardless of one's religious views or other beliefs, provides a superior account of human nature and culture. We are animals, but we are also rational animals. Kaufman explores the most fundamental philosophical questions as they relate to this debate over human nature—for example: Is free will an illusion? Is morality a product of evolution, with no objective basis? Is reason merely a tool for promoting reproductive success? Is art an adaptation for attracting mates? Is there any higher meaning or purpose to human life? Human Nature and the Limits of Darwinism aims to assess the competing views of human nature and present a clear account of the issues on this most pressing of questions. It engages in a close analysis of the numerous recent attempts to explain all human aims in terms of Darwinian processes and presents the arguments in support of the traditional conception of human nature.
Social scientists have long declared their autonomy from the natural sciences, and in doing so have tended to neglect important biological constraints on human nature. Many sociological theories have suggested a nearly complete malleability of patterns of social life. The New Evolutionary Social Science challenges this view by building on Stephen K. Sanderson's 'Darwinian conflict theory' which sets out to synthesise sociological theories with key findings from biology into an overarching scientific paradigm. Configuring and expanding this groundbreaking theory, the contributors to this volume are well-known European and American experts in evolutionary science. The New Evolutionary Social Science develops a new basis for understanding social change and the world's future through a better integration of the natural and social sciences.
The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views
Author: Douglas P. Fry
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Category: Social Science
Have humans always waged war? Is warring an ancient evolutionary adaptation or a relatively recent behavior--and what does that tell us about human nature? In War, Peace, and Human Nature, editor Douglas P. Fry brings together leading experts in such fields as evolutionary biology, archaeology, anthropology, and primatology to answer fundamental questions about peace, conflict, and human nature in an evolutionary context. The chapters in this book demonstrate that humans clearly have the capacity to make war, but since war is absent in some cultures, it cannot be viewed as a human universal. And counter to frequent presumption the actual archaeological record reveals the recent emergence of war. It does not typify the ancestral type of human society, the nomadic forager band, and contrary to widespread assumptions, there is little support for the idea that war is ancient or an evolved adaptation. Views of human nature as inherently warlike stem not from the facts but from cultural views embedded in Western thinking. Drawing upon evolutionary and ecological models; the archaeological record of the origins of war; nomadic forager societies past and present; the value and limitations of primate analogies; and the evolution of agonism, including restraint; the chapters in this interdisciplinary volume refute many popular generalizations and effectively bring scientific objectivity to the culturally and historically controversial subjects of war, peace, and human nature.
Biology, Psychology, Ethics, Politics, and Religion
Author: Michel Tibayrenc
Publisher: Academic Press
On Human Nature: Biology, Psychology, Ethics, Politics, and Religion covers the present state of knowledge on human diversity and its adaptative significance through a broad and eclectic selection of representative chapters. This transdisciplinary work brings together specialists from various fields who rarely interact, including geneticists, evolutionists, physicians, ethologists, psychoanalysts, anthropologists, sociologists, theologians, historians, linguists, and philosophers. Genomic diversity is covered in several chapters dealing with biology, including the differences in men and apes and the genetic diversity of mankind. Top specialists, known for their open mind and broad knowledge have been carefully selected to cover each topic. The book is therefore at the crossroads between biology and human sciences, going beyond classical science in the Popperian sense. The book is accessible not only to specialists, but also to students, professors, and the educated public. Glossaries of specialized terms and general public references help nonspecialists understand complex notions, with contributions avoiding technical jargon. Provides greater understanding of diversity and population structure and history, with crucial foundational knowledge needed to conduct research in a variety of fields, such as genetics and disease Includes three robust sections on biological, psychological, and ethical aspects, with cross-fertilization and reciprocal references between the three sections Contains contributions by leading experts in their respective fields working under the guidance of internationally recognized and highly respected editors
In this stimulating book, Goldsmith argues that biology has a great deal to say that should be of interest to social scientists, historians, philosophers, and humanists in general. He believes that anyone studying the social behavior of humans must take into consideration both proximate cause--the physiology, biochemistry, and social mechanisms of behavior--and ultimate cause--how the behavior came to exist in evolutionary time. Goldsmith, a neurobiologist, draws examples from neurobiology, psychology, and ethology (behavioral evolution). The result is a work that overcomes many of the misconceptions that have hindered the rich contributions the biological sciences have to offer concerning the evolution of human society, behavior, and sense of identity. Among the key topics addressed are the nature of biological explanation, the relationship between genes and behavior, those aspects of behavior most likely to respond to natural selection, the relationship between evolution and learning, and some probable modes of interaction between cultural and biological evolution. By re-examining the role of biological explanation in the domain of social development, the author has significantly advanced a more well-rounded view of human evolution and shed new light on the perennial question of what it means to be human. His book will appeal to biologists, social scientists, traditional humanists, and interested general readers.
In Literary Darwinism , Carroll presents a comprehensive survey of this new movement with a collection of his most important previously published work, along with three new essays. The essays and reviews give commentary on all the major contributors to the field, situate the field as a whole in relation to historical trends and contemporary schools, provide Darwinist readings of major literary texts such as Pride and Prejudice and Tess of the d'Urbervilles , and analyze literary Darwinism in relation to the affiliated fields of evolutionary metaphysics, cognitive rhetoric, and ecocriticism. Collecting the essays in a single volume will provide a central point of reference for scholars interested in consulting what the "foremost practicioner" ( New York Times ) of Darwinian literary criticism has to say about his field.
Human Nature and Suffering is a profound comment on the human condition, from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. Paul Gilbert explores the implications of humans as evolved social animals, suggesting that evolution has given rise to a varied set of social competencies, which form the basis of our personal knowledge and understanding. Gilbert shows how our primitive competencies become modified by experience - both satisfactorily and unsatisfactorily. He highlights how cultural factors may modify and activate many of these primitive competencies, leading to pathology proneness and behaviours that are collectively survival threatening. These varied themes are brought together to indicate how the social construction of self arises from the organization of knowledge encoded within the competencies. This Classic Edition features a new introduction from the author, bringing Gilbert's early work to a new audience. The book will be of interest to clinicians, researchers and historians in the field of psychology.