Kinship to Mastery: Biophilia in Human Evolution and Development

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Overview

<p>Kinship to Mastery is a fascinating and accessible exploration of the notion of biophilia—the idea that humans, having evolved with the rest of creation, possess a biologically based attraction to nature and exhibit an innate affinity for life and lifelike processes. Stephen R. Kellert sets forth the idea that people exhibit different expressions of biophilia in different contexts, and demonstrates how our quality of life in the largest sense is dependent upon the richness of our connections with nature.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite its clinical-sounding title, this is no arcane treatise but an accessible and eloquent introduction to the concept of biophilia, the "inherent human affinity for life and lifelike process." Kellert (The Value of Life), a professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, relies heavily on the work of Edward O. Wilson (who introduced the concept in 1984) and on the writings of scientists, environmentalists and poets to highlight the physical, emotional and intellectual benefits we human beings derive from our connection to the natural world. Not just food and clothing, but symbolic thinking, an "ethic of reverence" and even the metaphors that ground our language ("a wolf intimates seduction, a fox slyness, a snake treachery") are shown to derive from our engagement with the wild. Kellert passionately and convincingly argues that a future of increased pollution and diminished biological diversity would compromise much that now enhances our humanity. He contends that this future remains a grave possibility, however, because our affinity for nature, though inborn, is a "weak tendency," depending upon education and social support to develop and thrive. Kellert suggests some broad guidelines to slow down, or even reverse, the damage already done to the natural world. These include a respect for wildlife that acknowledges different cultural attitudes; preservation of habitats; an emphasis on living spaces that provide us with ample opportunities to integrate nature into our daily livesultimately fostering, as he puts it, "spiritual solace, comfort, and salvation." Library of Science selection. (June)
Library Journal
This latest book by Kellert (Yale Sch. of Forestry and Environmental Studies) builds on the research and ideas he elucidated for scholars in his recent The Value of Life (Island, 1996) and in his earlier collection, The Biophilia Hypothesis (LJ 11/1/93), to produce a much-needed introduction for the general reader to the concept of biophilia and its role in human development. He presents the empirical evidence in a straightforward manner while using narrative vignettes to illustrate the various ways biophilia is expressed in individual lives. His definition of biophilia makes clear that, although this human tendency to affiliate with living nature is encoded in our genes, it is highly dependent on culture for its strength and direction. Expressions of biophiliafor example, emotional bonding with companion animalshave been shaped by evolutionary advantage yet wither when society provides few opportunities to connect with natural diversity. Not all of Kellert's arguments are equally cogent, and some are speculative; nevertheless, he marshals a compelling case that a healthy, diverse natural environment is an "essential condition for human lives of satisfaction and fulfillment." Highly recommended for academic libraries and for public libraries interested in environmental issues.Joan S. Elbers, Port Charlotte, Fla.
Booknews
A skillful elaboration of the notion of biophilia<-->the idea that humans are part of evolution and, therefore, possess a basic biological attraction to nature<-->arguing that this affinity and its expression affects quality of life. Kellert (forestry and environmental studies, Yale U.) demonstrates human connections with nature, discussing the material necessities which the natural world provide and also less substantial contributions to intellectual capacity, emotional bonding, aesthetic attraction, creativity, imagination, and the recognition of a purposeful existence. These expressions of biophilia, the author argues, are integral to overall health, and the ongoing degradation of the environment might have consequences that people have not yet considered. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559633727
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 4/25/1997
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue
Ch. 1 The Notion of Biophilia 1
Ch. 2 The Material Basis 11
Ch. 3 The Aesthetic Appeal 33
Ch. 4 The Measure of Empirical Knowledge 51
Ch. 5 Nature As Metaphor 69
Ch. 6 The Quest for Exploration and Discovery 85
Ch. 7 Yearning for Kinship and Affection 105
Ch. 8 The Urge to Master 121
Ch. 9 Seeking Meaning and Transcendence 133
Ch. 10 Of Fear and Loathing 147
Ch. 11 Diminishing Nature, Self, and Society 163
Ch. 12 The Pursuit of Self-Interest 191
Notes 219
Index 249
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