Neither Gods Nor Beasts: How Science is Changing who We Think We are

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CSHL Press, 2008 - Philosophy - 179 pages
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Traditional views of human nature focus on the supernatural, defining us as creatures with souls, minds, and spirits that transcend our physical attributes. In this provocative book, distinguished scientist and historian Elof Axel Carlson argues for a different understanding of ourselves based on our biology‚€”cellular organization, genetics, life cycle, evolution, and our origins as a species. This interpretation does not negate our capacity for imagination, spiritual and emotional yearnings, or aesthetic appreciation for art, music, and literature. Carlson challenges educators, the media, and public policy makers to integrate the evidence from science more fully into our understanding of ourselves.
 

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Contents

Ch 1 Introduction
1
Part 1 Humanity in a Prescientific Universe
9
Ch 2 Living on Automatic Pilot
11
Ch 3 Between Gods and Beasts
17
Ch 4 Our Negative Image of Our Animal Self
21
Ch 5 Mind Soul Ideals and the Ephemeral
27
Part 2 Confronting and Recognizing Our Biology
35
Ch 6 Biology Becomes Mechanistic and Emerges as a Science
37
Ch 11 Neurobiology Reveals How the Brain Works
97
Part 3 How Should We Perceive Humanity in the Third Millennium
105
Ch 12 The Blank Slate the Human Nature and the Biological Determinism Fallacies
107
Ch 13 Human Nature as Potential for Forming Communities
127
Ch 14 Science Enriches Our Appreciation of the Arts and Humanities
133
Ch 15 Moral Values Bind a Community
139
Ch 16 The Human Condition and Our World Views Change Every Generation
145
Ch 17 Rethinking Science Teaching
159

Ch 7 The Human Body Is Composed of Cells
47
Ch 8 The Body Evolves
53
Ch 9 Most Human Traits Are Determined by Genes Which Are Composed of DNA
65
Ch 10 We Have a Life Cycle and Sexuality That is Genetically Programmed
83
Ch 18 A Human Outlook for the Third Millennium
167
Index
175
Back coverinside jacket
180
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Carlson, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus, Stony Brook University, New York, is a geneticist and historian of science.

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