Beyond Human Nature

Beyond Human Nature : How Culture and Experience Shape Our Lives

3.7 (219 ratings by Goodreads)
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In this provocative, revelatory tour de force, Jesse Prinz reveals how the cultures we live in - not biology - determine how we think and feel. He examines all aspects of our behaviour, looking at everything from our intellects and emotions, to love and sex, morality and even madness. This book seeks to go beyond traditional debates of nature and nurture. He is not interested in finding universal laws but, rather, in understanding, explaining and celebrating our differences.

Why do people raised in Western countries tend to see the trees before the forest, while people from East Asia see the forest before the trees? Why, in South East Asia, is there a common form of mental illness, unheard of in the West, in which people go into a trancelike state after being startled? Compared to Northerners, why are people in the American South more than twice as likely to kill someone over an argument? And, above all, just how malleable are we?

Prinz shows that the vast diversity of our behaviour is not engrained. He picks up where biological explanations leave off. He tells us the human story.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 416 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 37mm | 685g
  • Allen Lane
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0713998172
  • 9780713998177
  • 470,483

Review quote

This bracing book leads the charge against the idea that genetics explains all ... Compelling ... urgent and persuasive ... sophisticated but never obscure ... "By nature," Prinz concludes, "we transcend nature." -- James McConnachie * Sunday Times * From start to finish this book is a fine, balanced, enormously learned and informative blast on the trumpet of common sense and humane understanding. -- Simon Blackburn * New Statesman * The nature versus nurture tussle has been running for centuries...into this fervid arena steps Jesse J Prinz...who sets out the arguments made on either side of the debate...before exploring a middle ground...Beyond Human Nature explores the origins of knowledge, language, thought and emotion and argues that there is not one human nature, but many -- Carl Wilkinson * Financial Times * New York philosopher Jesse Prinz wants to call a halt to the ''century of the gene''. In a new book, Beyond Human Nature, he gathers the arguments of a growing number of scientists who take the side of nurture against nature, in a backlash against the tyranny of DNA -- Nick Miller * Sydney Morning Herald * Compelling arguments that cover a vast range of human behaviours ... [easy] to read ... We are not prisoners of our genes. The societies we have created by following careful rules of engagement largely leave us free to act as we see fit, for good - and bad -- Robin McKie * Guardian *
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About Jesse J Prinz

Jesse J. Prinz is currently a Distinguished Professor of philosophy at the City University of New York and an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he taught until January 2009. He works primarily in the philosophy of psychology and has produced books and articles on emotion, moral psychology, aesthetics and consciousness.
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Rating details

219 ratings
3.7 out of 5 stars
5 24% (52)
4 36% (79)
3 30% (65)
2 8% (17)
1 3% (6)
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