Biology and Freedom: An Essay on the Implications of Human Ethology

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Cambridge University Press, 1988 - Psychology - 376 pages
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Biology and Freedom is an essay on human nature; an attempt to make a just assessment of a species often presented as predominantly and unavoidably violent, greedy, and stupid. Likening human beings to animals is a traditional method of influencing attitudes on questions of morals and politics. Here, Professor Barnett shows that modern ethology, experimental psychology, genetics, and evolutionary theory give the currently fashionable misanthrophy no authentic support. He asks whether the theory of evolution has any bearing on, for instance, Machiavellianism in politics or the concept of original sin; and whether laboratory experiments on the effects of reward and punishment tell us anything useful about why we work, or about the enigma of free will. Combining the findings of modern biology with logic and humor, Professor Barnett gives a lucid alternative portrait of humanity. He stresses the questions that the complexities of human existence will raise long after the currently fashionable theories have faded. All those interested in these questions, in the truth about human nature, and in the future of human society will want to read this book.
 

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Contents

Four portraits
1
Doric temple Courtesy Alison Frantz
2
The pessimistic tradition
7
Animals and analogy
16
An infants smile S A Barnett
22
Communication and instinct
33
Hanuman langur S A Barnett
40
Crowd in Calcutta S A Barnett
51
Indian farmer S A Barnett
204
Work and play
207
Queens head from Benin Courtesy Frank Willett
222
The reductionist imperative
229
Bark painting Australian Museum
233
Human communication
251
Infants imitation T M Field
252
Polynesian mouth bow Bishop Museum Honolulu
264

The aggression labyrinth
56
Woman as gatherer R B Lee
64
Evolution and natural selection
80
Environment and heredity
102
Stories of human evolution
116
Breast feeding Courtesy WHO
118
Darwinism genetics and politics
141
Conditioning and improvisation
178
Rat in box Philip Boucas courtesy WHO
189
Puluwatan craft Courtesy Thomas Gladwin
195
Teaching and tradition
270
Gathererhunter teaching Courtesy G B Silberbauer
273
The question
284
Glossary
303
Notes
316
References
336
Name index
361
Subject index
369
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