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.
On Human Nature: A Gathering While Everything Flows brings together the late essays, autobiographical reflections, an interview, and a poem by the eminent literary theorist and cultural critic Kenneth Burke (1897-1993). Burke, author of Language as Symbolic Action, A Grammar of Motives, and Rhetoric of Motives, among other works, was an innovative and original thinker who worked at the intersection of sociology, psychology, literary theory, and semiotics. This book, a selection of fourteen representative pieces of his productive later years, addresses many important themes Burke tackled throughout his career such as logology (his attempt to find a universal language theory and methodology), technology, and ecology. The essays also elaborate Burke's notions about creativity and its relation to stress, language and its literary uses, the relation of mind and body, and more. Provocative, idiosyncratic, and erudite, On Human Nature makes a significant statement about cultural linguistics and is an important rounding-out of the Burkean corpus.
This anthology brings together 45 selections by a wide range of philosophers and other thinkers, and provides a representative sampling of the approaches to the study of human nature that have been taken within the western tradition. The selections range in time from the ancient Greeks to the 1990s, and in political orientation from the conservative individualism of Ayn Rand to the liberalism of John Rawls. Classic writings from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries are here (Descartes, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and so on), but so are a wide range of twentieth-century writings, including a number of feminist voices, the biological theory of Edward O. Wilson, and the cultural materialist theory of Marvin Harris. A substantial selection of Christian views of human nature is a central part of the anthology. The anthology is as notable for its depth as it is for its breadth; an important editorial principle has been to include a variety of substantial selections, thus allowing the reader to engage more readily with some of the complexities of each approach.
Drawn from Parerga and posthumously published works, these six essays offer an accessible approach to the author's philosophy. Topics include government, free will and fatalism, character, moral instinct, and ethics.
Chomsky brings together his thoughts on topics ranging from language and human nature to the Middle East settlement and the place of East Timor in the New World Order. A must read for anyone interested in Chomsky.
The book covers fundamental issues such as the origins and function of sexual reproduction, mating behavior, human mate choice, patterns of violence in families, altruistic behavior, the evolution of brain size and the origins of language, the modular mind, and the relationship between genes and culture.
In this provocative book, Douglas Candland shows that as we begin to understand the way animals and non-speaking humans "think," we hold up a mirror of sorts to our own mental world, and gain profound insights into human nature. Weaving together diaries, contemporary newspaper accounts, and his own enlightening commentary, Candland brings to life a series of extraordinary stories. He begins with a look at past efforts to civilize feral children. We meet Victor, the Wild Boy of Aveyron, now famous as the subject of a Truffaut film; Kaspar Hauser, raised in a cell, civilized, and then assassinated; and the Wolf Girls of India, found early this century huddled among wolf pups in a forest den (they were originally believed to be ghosts by superstitious villagers, who nearly shot them as they were being captured). In each case, it was hoped that the study of these children would help clarify the age-old nature/nurture debate, but, as Candland shows, so much of the information "revealed" was really only a projection of beliefs previously held by the investigating scientists. Candland then turns to "clever animals." We learn how the investigation of "Clever Hans," the German horse who could calculate square roots, proved to be a first step in the direction of behaviorism (researchers found that Hans was being tipped off by the subtle and unwitting body language of his owner and other observers, who would bend almost imperceptibly at the waist with every hoof beat, and stand erect when the correct count was reached). And Candland discusses the many attempts to communicate with our closest neighbor, the apes. We read of Richard Lynch Garner's 1892 experiment living with chimpanzees in Gabon (he taught one to say the French word "feu"), and of Gua, raised by W.N. and L.A. Kellogg alongside their own son Donald, and of the latest successes of teaching sign language to such precocious apes as Sarah, Sherman, Austin, and Koko. Throughout, Candland illuminates the boldest and most intriguing efforts yet to extend our world to that of our fellow creatures. And he shows that, in the end, our effort to "make contact" is a reflection of the way in which we as a species create and order our universe. Humans have long shown a wish to connect with the silent minds around them. In assembling and interpreting the compelling tales in this book, Candland offers us a new understanding not only of the animal kingdom, but of the very nature of humanity, and our place in the great chain of being.