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On Our Minds: How Evolutionary Psychology Is Reshaping the Nature versus Nurture Debate
     

On Our Minds: How Evolutionary Psychology Is Reshaping the Nature versus Nurture Debate

by Eric M. Gander
 

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There is no question more fundamental to human existence than that posed by the nature-versus-nurture debate. For much of the past century, it was widely believed that there was no essential human nature and that people could be educated or socialized to thrive in almost any imaginable culture. Today, that orthodoxy is being directly and forcefully challenged by a

Overview

There is no question more fundamental to human existence than that posed by the nature-versus-nurture debate. For much of the past century, it was widely believed that there was no essential human nature and that people could be educated or socialized to thrive in almost any imaginable culture. Today, that orthodoxy is being directly and forcefully challenged by a new science of the mind: evolutionary psychology. Like the theory of evolution itself, the implications of evolutionary psychology are provocative and unsettling. Rather than viewing the human mind as a mysterious black box or a blank slate, evolutionary psychologists see it as a physical organ that has evolved to process certain types of information in certain ways that enables us to thrive only in certain types of cultures.

In On Our Minds, Eric M. Gander examines all sides of the public debate between evolutionary psychologists and their critics. Paying particularly close attention to the popular science writings of Steven Pinker, Edward O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, and Stephen Jay Gould, Gander traces the history of the controversy, succinctly summarizes the claims and theories of the evolutionary psychologists, dissects the various arguments deployed by each side, and considers in detail the far-reaching ramifications—social, cultural, and political—of this debate. Gander's lucid and highly readable account concludes that evolutionary psychology now holds the potential to answer our oldest and most profound moral and philosophical questions, fundamentally changing our self–perception as a species.

Editorial Reviews

Quarterly Review of Biology - Thomas J. Bouchard

An enjoyable and informative book.

Choice

Gander has written a useful overview of evolutionary psychology and its implications for understanding important contemporary social issues... Gander is successful in combining sophisticated conceptual and ideological analysis with engaging writing. Both proponents and opponents of evolutionary psychology will profit from reading the book... Highly recommended.

Journal of Biosocial Science - Boguslaw Pawlowski

A very good book for those unacquainted with or confused by the modern debate on human nature or with the principles of evolutionary psychology.

Quarterly Review of Biology
An enjoyable and informative book.

— Thomas J. Bouchard

Journal of Biosocial Science
A very good book for those unacquainted with or confused by the modern debate on human nature or with the principles of evolutionary psychology.

— Boguslaw Pawlowski

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801873874
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
12/28/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.06(d)

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What People are Saying About This

Paul R. Gross

This is a fine book that will arouse passions. Gander has produced a conscientious and scientifically sound account of the core evolutionary biology upon which evolutionary psychology is built, and in delightful addition, a sometimes witty, always fair account of the political and cultural high jinks of the opponents of evolutionary psychology. There is no scientific subject more politically fraught today. This is a very well written, competently documented survey of its currently salient ideas and of the story of how they came to be salient.

Paul R. Gross, University of Virginia

Steven Pinker

A lucid and thought-provoking exploration of an intellectual theme that will increasingly engage us in the coming decades: human nature and its implications. On Our Minds is clear and lively enough to interest a general audience, while containing novel analyses that should be considered by the specialists.

Steven Pinker, Harvard University, author of How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate

Meet the Author

Eric M. Gander is an associate professor of Public Argument in the department of communication studies at Baruch College, City University of New York.

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