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eBook Beyond Human Nature: How Culture And Experience Shape Our Lives epub

by Jesse J Prinz

eBook Beyond Human Nature: How Culture And Experience Shape Our Lives epub
  • ISBN: 0141019344
  • Author: Jesse J Prinz
  • Genre: Social Sciences
  • Subcategory: Philosophy
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Penguin UK (February 26, 2013)
  • Pages: 250 pages
  • ePUB size: 1997 kb
  • FB2 size 1187 kb
  • Formats txt docx azw mbr


This book seeks to go beyond traditional debates of nature and nurture. In this provocative, revelatory tour de force, Jesse Prinz reveals how the cultures we live in - not biology - determine how we think and feel.

This book seeks to go beyond traditional debates of nature and nurture. He examines all aspects of our behaviour, looking at everything from our intellects and emotions, to love and sex, morality and even madness. This book seeks to go beyond traditional debates of nature and nurture.

Beyond Human Nature book.

Beyond Human Nature: How. has been added to your Cart. 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.

book by Jesse J. Prinz.

Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Beyond Human Nature: How .

Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape Our Lives.

This book provides a loud counterblast to the fashionable faith of our times: that human nature is driven by biology. There is an opposing movement growing, however, and Jesse J Prinz is its splendidly sceptical spokesman. Everywhere we turn, we seem to find experts announcing that this trait or that behaviour is innate, genetic or hard-wired. Reporting live from the frontline of the scientific nature v nurture debate, he forces us to acknowledge that we should think a little less about the human genome, and a lot more about human culture

It is astonishing how quickly nature has gone into retreat. Early in the book he tells us that only "a tiny fraction of articles in psychology journals take culture into consideration".

It is astonishing how quickly nature has gone into retreat. Until five or ten years ago, the dominant story was that our genes were our fate. Our fixed endowments in the shape of unlearned capacities, innate modules, biologically hard-wired dispositions and evolutionary inheritances from the savannah dominated the scene, with culture and history relegated to mere bit players. Prinz is admirably cautious about the nature-nurture dispute, which always has to come down to matters of detail and degree.

That’s because Prinz makes the central axis of his book the ancient dichotomy between nature and nurture, and . Twenty-first century science shows, in ever greater depth, that experience and culture shape our minds by altering the biological connectedness within our brains.

That’s because Prinz makes the central axis of his book the ancient dichotomy between nature and nurture, and then leaps firmly onto the nurturist side. Early on, Prinz laments that Everyone seems to think that nature and nurture constitute a false dichotomy – a dichotomy propped up by the equally useless straw men of biological determinist naturists and blank-slate nurturists. I count myself among the everyone, for whom the nature-nurture debate is over.

In Beyond Human Nature Jesse J. Prinz reveals that it is the societies we live in, not our genes, that determine how we think and feel

In Beyond Human Nature Jesse J. Prinz reveals that it is the societies we live in, not our genes, that determine how we think and feel. This is a book about humanity's power to transcend nature; and one that, ultimately, celebrates our differences.

The debate still rages over the influence of nature versus nurture on animal and human behavior. In his Perspective, describes how to finally move past this dichotomy. Increasing knowledge about gene expression and behavior reveals that DNA is both inherited and environmentally responsive.

We are constantly told that human traits - from aggression to gender differences - are 'hardwired'. In Beyond Human Nature Jesse J. Prinz reveals that it is the societies we live in, not our genes, that determine how we think and feel. From why mental illness differs so widely between cultures to how geography influences morals, from our sexual preferences to how we learn languages, he proves that the vast diversity of behaviour is not ingrained. This is a book about humanity's power to transcend nature; and one that, ultimately, celebrates our differences. Jesse J. Prinz is currently a Distinguished Professor of philosophy at the City University of New York and an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he taught until January 2009. He works primarily in the philosophy of psychology and has produced books and articles on emotion, moral psychology, aesthetics and consciousness. 'From start to finish this book is a fine, balanced, enormously learned and informative blast on the trumpet of common sense and humane understanding ... wonderful' Simon Blackburn, New Statesman 'The nature versus nurture tussle has been running for centuries, and into this fervid arena steps Jesse J. Prinz ... he explores the origins of knowledge, language, thought and emotion and argues that there is not one human nature, but many' Carl Wilkinson, Financial Times 'Jesse Prinz wants to call a halt to the "century of the gene" ... in a backlash against the tyranny of DNA' Sydney Morning Herald
Comments: (7)
MOQ
For the most part persuasive, although at times difficult to follow. The first chapter on why overemphasizing the role of genes could lead us astray as a society is important - it details the history of Social Darwinism and the assumptions in the past (some not so distant) as to the role of inheritance v. culture. The discussion of the intelligence of men vs. women with regard to the sciences, the subject of controversy in the 1990s absorbing.
Fearlesssinger
Fabulous - a very interesting, accessible and pertinent read.
Zeueli
The book is about two scientific positions that exist since the times of the old Greeks, often reduced to the ‘nature-nurture’ issue. Emotions, language, traits and values – are they part of human nature, genetically determined and hard-wired in our brains, or are they the product of culture? Of course, neither nature nor culture can exist completely without the other, but how great a part each plays has been and is still the point of many academic debates.
Prinz states early on, that he is on the side of culture, so the reader knows what to expect. If you have been a naturist so far, see if he can convince you. If you are a nurturist, see if his arguments are similar to yours. And if you never thought about the issue, then prepare for a roller coaster ride of ideas and reasoning! Prinz structures each chapter around a question (e. g. “Where does thinking come from?”), and answers it first by summarising the arguments of the naturist side. Then he takes them apart, step-by-step. He points at flaws in research methods, logical problems, over-interpretation of results and offers alternative explanations. To underpin his arguments, he quotes about 250 scientific studies from psychology, philosophy, sociology and anthropology, but he gathers these in form of end notes at the end of the book, which makes the text easier to read than a traditional psychological text (which quotes the names of the researcher in parentheses in the text). Sometimes he also speculates, but when he does he tells you, and as the speculations agree with the quoted re, he thus shows that there are alternative ways to interpret the data, so more and cleverer research is needed.
Reading original research is often hard for an outsider. Each discipline has more or less developed their own lingo (one reason why they don’t collaborate interdisciplinary), but Prince has succeeded well in translating the different dialects into normal English. His choice of examples and titles is often witty. And no matter what side one is on: there is some gymnastics for the brain in following his dialectic argumentation, and more than once did I have to revise my own convictions several times within minutes. Utterly exciting.
The only critics I have is that Prinz obviously fell for one of Chomsky’s ideas, otherwise I cannot understand why he does not cite Skinner’s Verbal Behavior in the language chapter. And I also think adding some dynamic system thinking, which has appears also in developmental psychology could improve the argument.
So I highly recommend this book for everybody who likes a bit of an intellectual challenge.
Sorryyy
Sure, we are a product of biology, but we are also a product of culture and experience.
There is indeed something after genetics and evolution.
And we have have heard way to little about this in recent years.

So, imho this is long overdue, and in this very complelling book by
Jesse J. Prinz we get "the other side". I.e. a lot about how culture and history turns us into the people we are.
The story takes us from babies dressed up in pink or
in blue, and being treated by parents accordingly.
To morality in hunter gatherer societies versus
agricultural societies. Where is it moral
to be a cannibal, and where can you
have slaves?
Language is what allows us to talk about the
whole thing - and Prinz makes a good case
for statistical learning as the basis
of language - instead of an innate language module, it convinced me.

There is a lot less innate than
we usually think, and a lot more learned than we usually think.
I take a lot of the critique of this book to be about
where nature nature starts and nurture takes over,
and I think this books finds a much better balance
than we see in other books.
Marilbine
Today the dominant trend in the study of human nature is genetic and neural determinism, especially the latter. Ten years ago, coming up with a gene for everything - the gay gene, the God gene, the art gene - was all the rage, and the sequencing of the human genome was expected to finally reveal all the secrets of human nature. When that didn't pan out, the trend switched to the hot new field: neuroscience. Now everyone is coming up with a brain region for everything, and a fancy full-color fMRI to prove it.

Jesse Prinz, a philosopher at CUNY, presents a sustained argument against any sort of simple biological determinism, genetic, neural, or anything else. He systematically points out the fallacies in such an approach. While genes have clear influence on simple physical traits (eye color, height, etc.), there is little evidence of their direct influence on psychological or behavioral traits. Similarly, there is little good evidence that the brain is "hard-wired" for particular traits or tendencies, such as Chomsky's "universal grammar" or intelligence/IQ. Prinz is at his best providing a critique of particular studies that purport to demonstrate evidence of fixed "human nature"; he demolishes in two pages for example the claim that there is a "cheater detection" module built into our brain. He criticizes psychologists in particular for their basic methodological assumption that there is a fixed human nature, and that the best way to understand behavior is to study the brain and the genes. This is philosophy at its best, scientifically informed and critiquing the assumptions and hasty conclusions of innumerable psychological studies.

Prinz makes the overall point that the evidence clearly indicates that the essential, evolved feature of human nature is its flexibility and adaptability, not its fixity. Really, this should have been obvious from the start, given the enormous range of diversity of cultures and of individual behavior within cultures. To understand human behavior, the best place to look is not neuroscience or genetics, but sociology and history. There is nothing "soft" or "unscientific" about this approach; it is quite consistent with evolutionary biology to hold that human uniqueness consists in our ability to use culture to adapt our behavior to the circumstances. Whether it is religion, art, or gender, the source of our behavior is culture, not biology. Or more precisely, you cannot separate the two: it is our biology that empowers us to use culture to control our behavior.
Not everything about the book is equally high quality. Prinz is at his weakest when he defends his own favorite position, moral relativism. For him, morality is just an emotional preference, and there is no objective basis for any moral principles. He loses his critical edge when he credulously accepts scientific studies that support his view of morality, such as Joshua Greene's flawed experiments on the trolley problem. And Prinz's moral relativism infects much of the book, so that we are given a highly cynical, materialistic, reductionist view of human nature and history, in which moral ideals play no role. All examples of moral progress, even the elimination of slavery, come down in Prinz's view to economic and selfish motives. He insists that the demise of slavery was due to the rise of industrial capitalism, making it no longer profitable. This is just bad history and economics, and it is rather willful denial of the fact that the abolitionist movement in Britain and the US were largely motivated by moral principles not economic self-interest. On the topic of morality, you would do much better to read Pinker's Better Angels of Our Nature, which includes a far more accurate account of the demise of slavery.

Other than this one area of shortsightedness, Prinz's book is an important corrective to the current deterministic trends in psychology. The book will be highly controversial, as Prinz is fighting against a powerful tide of biologism, and attacks a lot of reputable scientists. But don't believe all the negative reviews, as many of them are pure defensiveness. This is a thoughtful and well-informed book.
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