The Things We Do: Using the Lessons of Bernard and Darwin to Understand the What, How, and why of Our Behavior

Front Cover
MIT Press, 2000 - Psychology - 290 pages
2 Reviews

The remarkable achievements that modern science has made in physics, chemistry,biology, medicine, and engineering contrast sharply with our limited knowledge of the human mind andbehavior. A major reason for this slow progress, claims Gary Cziko, is that with few exceptions,behavioral and cognitive scientists continue to apply a Newtonian-inspired view of animate behavioras an organism's output determined by environmental input. This one-way cause-effect approachignores the important findings of two major nineteenth-century biologists, French physiologistClaude Bernard and English naturalist Charles Darwin.

Approaching living organismsas purposeful systems that behave in order to control their perceptions of the external environmentprovides a new perspective for understanding what, why, and how living things, including humans, dowhat they do. Cziko examines in particular perceptual control theory, which has its roots inBernard's work on the self-regulating nature of living organisms and in the work of engineers whodeveloped the field of cybernetics during and after World War II. He also shows how our evolutionarypast together with Darwinian processes currently occurring within our bodies, such as the evolutionof new brain connections, provide insights into the immediate and ultimate causes ofbehavior.

Writing in an accessible style, Cziko shows how the lessons of Bernardand Darwin, updated with the best of current scientific knowledge, can provide solutions to certainlong-standing theoretical and practical problems in behavioral science and enable us to develop newmethods and topics for research.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

An excellent and important book. It's an interesting alternative take on behaviour and the basis of human life, extending from catching a ball to the U.S. rehabilitative system's shortcomings. Cziko synthesizes disparate but important contributions to perceptual control theory, from Bernard and Cannon, Wiener, to Darwin, to bind together an alternative and plausible theory of behavioural science that is a refreshing take on things to those of us in behavioural sciences - even if robotic engineers and physiologists have been using it for a long time. Even if you don't agree with it, it's easy to appreciate for the above merits. 


From Animism
From Purposeful
From Constancy of the Internal Environment
Organisms as Perceptual
The Impact of the Darwinian
The Darwinian Revolution
The Darwinian Lesson Extended
Understanding Adaptive Behavior and Thought as Purposeful
Behavioral Science and the CauseEffect Trap
Applying the Lessons of Bernard and Darwin to Behavioral Theory

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (2000)

Cziko is Professor and AT&T Technology Fellow in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Bibliographic information