Cell and Psyche - The Biology of Purpose

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Read Books, 2008 - Science - 132 pages
CELL AND PSYCHE THE BIOLOGY OF PURPOSE By EDMUND W. SINNOTT. PREFACE TO THE TORCHBOOK EDITION: SINCE the publication of this little book, as the McNair Lectures at the University of North Carolina, the author has written two others, as well as a number of papers, on the same gen eral theme. Though these elaborate the argument a little further, the essence of it is in Cell and Psyche. This is admittedly a specula tion, but one based solidly on biological fact. It has been regarded as rather visionary and metaphysical by some people, but others have been attracted to it by the suggestion it offers for a better understanding of the ancient problem of how mind and body are related to each other. This problem is of such paramount impor tance, not only for a knowledge of what man really is but for the construction of a satisfying life philosophy, that any light thrown on it should be welcome. The suggestion that man's physical life grows out of the basic goal-seeking and purposiveness found in all organic behavior and that this, in turn, is an aspect of the more general self - regulating and normative character evident in the development and activities of living organisms, is at least worth serious consideration. If we are to avoid a dualistic idea of man's nature and to construct a true monism that does not require the sacrifice of the significance of either mind or body, some such conception as this seems a rea sonable means of doing so. It is to be hoped that the wider distri bution now made possible for the present book may result in a more general consideration of this particular relationship between biol ogy and philosophy* E. W. S. CONTENTS: Introduction . i I. Organization, the Distinctive Character of All Life 15 II. Biological Organization and Psychological Activity 43 IIL Some Implications for Philosophy 75 Suggested Readings . 112 Index . 117. INTRODUCTION: IN THE CLAMOR and confusion of our times one fact grows ever clearer beliefs are important. One of the major problems with which men now are faced per haps, indeed, the most important one is the wide dis agreement which still exists in their fundamental philos ophies. What course a man will follow, or a nation, is set in no small measure by his basic creed, by what he really thinks about the true nature of a human being his personality, his freedom, his destiny, his relations to others and to the rest of the universe; by the judgments lie makes as to what qualities and courses of action are admirable and should command his allegiance. These are not academic questions merely. They arc ancient mys teries which long have troubled human hearts and seem today almost as far as ever from solution. The answer a ny* n gives to them is the most significant thing that one can know about him. We may be tempted to under estimate the importance of these inner directives and turn instead to outer influences, to economic and social factors, as more decisive for our actions. But when we look at what the philosophy of Marx has done to set one half the world against the other, at the basic divergence between the thinking of East and West, and at so many other differences in political and religious beliefs which now divide mankind, we can hardly doubt the profound practical import of men's philosophies. It is still true today that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. In the minds of men are the most fateful battles fought. Against those ideologies we condemn, force in the end will fail. If our opponents cannot be convinced, or their ideas reconci

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