Humankind: A Brief History

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Oxford University Press, 2004 - Social Science - 190 pages
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The discovery that the DNA of chimpanzees and humans is incredibly similar, sharing 98% of the same code, suggests that there is very little different--or special--about the human animal. Likewise, advances in artificial intelligence mean that humans no longer have exclusive access to reason, consciousness and imagination. Indeed, the harder we cling to the concept of humanity, the more slippery it becomes. But if it breaks down altogether, what will this mean for human values, human rights, and the defense of human dignity?
In a book of breathtaking range, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto takes us on an enlightening journey through the history of humankind, a narrative tour de force that challenges our most fundamental belief--that we are, and have always been, human. Humankind confronts the problem from a historical perspective, showing how our current understanding of what it means to be human has been shaken by new discoveries from science and philosophy. The author shows how our concept of humankind has changed over time, tracing its faltering expansion to its present limits and arguing that these limits are neither fixed or scientifically verifiable. Controversially, he proposes that we have further to go in developing our concept of humankind and that we need to rethink it as a matter of urgency.
One of the most imaginative historians writing today, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto here combines astonishing breadth with passionate and exciting storytelling. For the intellectually curious, for those interested in history, philosophy, science and culture, and for anyone who has ever wondered about what makes us human, Humankind offers an exhilarating new perspective.

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About the author (2004)

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is a best-selling history author and well known internationally.He is also a highly successful radio and television broadcaster and has won many prizes for his publications. Previous publications (which are widely reviewed) include Millennium: A History of our Last Thousand Years, Truth: A History, and Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature. He is currently Professor of Global Environmental History at Queen Mary, University of London.

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