So Human An Animal

Overview

At least until cloning becomes the order of the day, Rene Dubos contends that each human being is unique, unprecedented, unrepeatable. However, today each person faces the critical danger of losing this very humanness to his mechanized surroundings. Most people spend their days in a confusion of concrete and steel, trapped "in the midst of noise, dirt, ugliness and absurdity." So begins the essential message of the work of one of the great figures in microbiology and ...

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Overview

At least until cloning becomes the order of the day, Rene Dubos contends that each human being is unique, unprecedented, unrepeatable. However, today each person faces the critical danger of losing this very humanness to his mechanized surroundings. Most people spend their days in a confusion of concrete and steel, trapped "in the midst of noise, dirt, ugliness and absurdity." So begins the essential message of the work of one of the great figures in microbiology and experimental pathology of this century.

Is the human species becoming dehumanized by the condition of his environment? So Human an Animal is an attempt to address this broad concern, and explain why so little is being done to address this issue. The book sounds both an urgent warning, and offers important policy insights into how this trend towards dehumanization can be halted and finally reversed. Dubos asserts that we are as much the product of our total environment as of our genetic endowment. In fact, the environment we live in can greatly enhance, or severely Hmit, the development of human potential. Yet we are deplorably ignorant of the effects of our surroundings on human life. We create conditions which can only thwart human nature.

So Human an Animal is a book with hope no less than alarm. As Joseph Wood Krutch noted at the time, Dubos shows convincingly "why science is indispensable, not omnipotent." Science'can change our suicidal course by learning to deal analytically with the living experience of human beings, by supplementing the knowledge of things and of the body machine with a science of human life. Only then can we give larger scope to human freedom by providing a rational basis for option and action. Timely, eloquent, and guided by a deep humanistic spirit, this new edition is graced by a succinct and careful outline of the life and work of the author.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is an important work that should be read and pondered by all scientists. Dubos’ basic message is that our scientifically directed technology is choking and stifling our very humanity and unless we as scientists redirect much of our attention and work into a humanistic framework our humanity will surely disappear. This is a powerful message. . . . [This] is an exciting and provocative book by an eminent writer and scientist that strongly suggests the need and way toward highly increased involvement of humanistic goals for science and technology.” —Solomon H. Katz, American Scientist
Booknews
****Reprint of the 1968 Scribner classic (cited in BCL3) with a new introduction by Jill Cooper and David Mechanic. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765804297
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/1998
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

René Dubos was professor at The Rockefeller University in New York. He was a celebrated microbiologist and experimental pathologist. He was the first to demonstrate the feasibility of obtaining germ-fighting drugs from microbes. Among his many writings are So Human an Animal , The Torch of Life , and The Unseen World. David Mechanic is director of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research and René Dubos University Professor at Rutgers University. Among his books are Mental Health and Social Policy, The Truth About Health Care, and Policy Challenges in Modern Health Care.

Jill Cooper is in the history of science program at Rutgers University, and is completing her doctoral dissertation on the early scientific career of René Dubos.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
Foreword
1 The Unbelievable Future 3
2 Man's Nature and Human History 31
3 Biological Remembrance of Things Past 63
4 The Living Experience 107
5 The Pursuit of Significance 136
6 The Science of Humanity 194
Reference Notes 243
Index 259
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