Biology and Freedom: An Essay on the Implications of Human Ethologyby S. A. Barnett
Pub. Date: 05/31/2005
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Biology and Freedom is an essay on human nature; an attempt to make a just assessment of a species often presented as predominantly and unavoidably violent, greedy, and stupid. Likening human beings to animals is a traditional method of influencing attitudes on questions of morals and politics. Here, Professor Barnett shows that modern ethology, experimental psychology, genetics, and evolutionary theory give the currently fashionable misanthrophy no authentic support. He asks whether the theory of evolution has any bearing on, for instance, Machiavellianism in politics or the concept of original sin; and whether laboratory experiments on the effects of reward and punishment tell us anything useful about why we work, or about the enigma of free will. Combining the findings of modern biology with logic and humor, Professor Barnett gives a lucid alternative portrait of humanity. He stresses the questions that the complexities of human existence will raise long after the currently fashionable theories have faded. All those interested in these questions, in the truth about human nature, and in the future of human society will want to read this book.
- Cambridge University Press
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Table of ContentsList of illustrations; Preface; Acknowledgements; Part I. An Introduction: 1. Four portraits; 2. The pessimistic tradition; 3. Animals and analogy; Part II. Homo Pugnax: The Violent Species: 4. Communication and instinct; 5. The aggression labyrinth; Part III. Homo Egoisticus: The Selfish Species: 6. Evolution and natural selection; 7. Environment and heredity; 8. Stories of human evolution; 9. Darwinism, genetics and politics; Part IV. Homo Operans: The Greedy Species: 10. Conditioning and improvisation; 11. Work and play; Part V. Homo Sapiens: The Human Species: 12. The reductionist imperative; 13. Human communication; 14. Teaching and tradition; 15. The question; Glossary; Notes; References; Name index; Subject index.
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