Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind

Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind

by Jesse J. Prinz


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“A loud counterblast to the fashionable faith of our times: that human nature is driven by biology . . . urgent and persuasive.”—Sunday Times (London)

In this era of genome projects and brain scans, it is all too easy to overestimate the role of biology in human psychology. But in this passionate corrective to the idea that DNA is destiny, Jesse Prinz focuses on the most extraordinary aspect of human nature: that nurture can supplement and supplant nature, allowing our minds to be profoundly influenced by experience and culture. Drawing on cutting-edge research in neuroscience, psychology, and anthropology, Prinz shatters the myth of human uniformity and reveals how our differing cultures and life experiences make each of us unique. Along the way he shows that we can’t blame mental illness or addiction on our genes, and that societal factors shape gender differences in cognitive ability and sexual behavior. A much-needed contribution to the nature-nurture debate, Beyond Human Nature shows us that it is only through the lens of nurture that the spectrum of human diversity becomes fully and brilliantly visible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393347890
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/17/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 630,871
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jesse J. Prinz is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and director of the Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. He lives in New York.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

1 The Nature-Nurture Debate 1

Where Do Traits Come From?

2 Putting the Genome Back in the Bottle 17

3 Get Smart 52

Where Does Knowledge Come From?

4 What Babies Know 83

5 Sensible Ideas 115

Where Does Language Come From?

6 The Gift of the Gab 137

7 Words and Worlds 170

Where Does Thinking Come From?

8 The Tao of Thought 193

9 Gender and Geometry 213

Where Do Feelings Come From?

10 Fear and Loathing in Micronesia 241

11 Gladness and Madness 267

Where Do Values Come From?

12 Coping with Cannibalism 293

13 In Bed with Darwin 330

Afterword 365

Notes 369

Index 389

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