Ideas of Human Nature: From the Bhagavad Gita to Sociobiology / Edition 1

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Unique in both scope and organization, this book presents an intriguing yet challenging introduction to the world's great ideas concerning the nature of human nature — with a sampling of different approaches. The selections are drawn from religious writings, academic treatises, nonfiction, fiction, etc. — enabling readers to encounter the great thinkers through their own words. Organizes selections into intellectually coherent topics— Religious/Mythic Views, The Mind, The Social Setting, The Human Animal? — and then subtopics — e.g., The Role of Reason, The Limits of Reason, People Are Basically Nasty, People Are Basically Good, Animals as “Human,” and Vice Versa, Sex and Gender, etc.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780136475873
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 1/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

(NOTE:Each chapter concludes with Study Questions and Some Additional Readings)


1. In the Beginning: Views of Creation and Being.

Hindu: Bhagavad Gita. Buddhist: Prajnaparamita Sutra. Taoist: The Tao Te Ching. Judeo-Christian: Old Testament. Christian: New Testament. Muslim: Koran (or Qur'an).

2. Body and Soul.

Plato: Phaedo. Augustine: The City of God. Lucretius: On the Nature of Things. Aquinas: Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles.


3. The Imprint of Experience.

Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Hume: A Treatise on Human Nature. Kant: Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Practical Reason.

4. The Role of Reason.

Plato: The Republic and Phaedrus. Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics. Smith: The Wealth of Nations. Doyle: A Study in Scarlet.

5. The Limits of Reason.

Dostoyevsky: Notes From Underground. Crane: The Black Riders.

6. The Mind/Brain Problem.

Descartes: Discourse on the Method, Meditations on First Philosophy, Treatise on Man, and Automatism of Brutes. La Mettrie: Man a Machine. Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis.

7. Behaviorism.

Watson: Behaviorism. Skinner: Science and Human Behavior and Beyond Freedom and Dignity.

8. Psychoanalysis.

Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams, The Ego and the ID, Totem and Taboo, and Civilization and Its Discontents.


9. People are Basically Bad.

Plato: The Republic. Augustine: The City of God. Hobbes: The Leviathan. Kafka: The Bucket Rider.

10. People are Basically Good.

Rousseau: Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (The Second Discourse). Kropotkin: Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution.

11. People are Basically a Product of Their Cultures.

Durkheim: Rules of Sociological Method. Boas: The Mind of Primitive Man. Kroeber: The Superorganic.

12. Marxist “Man” and Alienation.

Marx: Comments on James Mill, The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, The Grundrisse, and Das Kapital. Markham: The Man with the Hoe.”

13. The Pursuit of Power.

Machiavelli: The Prince. Nietzsche: The Antichrist and Thus Spake Zarathustra. London: The Sea-Wolf.

14. The Existential Imagination.

Kiergegaard: Either/Or, Fear and Trembling, and Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Sartre: Existentialism and Humanism and Being and Nothingness. Camus: The Myth of Sisyphus and The Plague.

15. Sex and Gender.

Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Mill: The Subjection of Women. Stanton: Introductin to The Women's Bible. Woolf: A Room of One's Own. Beauvoir: The Second Sex. Gilligan: In a Different Voice.


16. Humans as Animals, and Vice Versa.

Swift: Gulliver's Travels. Lorenz: On Aggression. D. Griffin: Animal Minds.

17. Evolution and Sociobiology.

Darwin: The Origin of Species, and The Descent of Man. Wilson: Sociobiology and On Human Nature. Dawkins: The Selfish Gene.

18. Uniquely Human?

Becker: The Denial of Death. Pinker: The Language Instinct. Westermarck: The History of Human Marriage.


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