The Human Animal

The Human Animal : Personal Identity Without Psychology

3.6 (35 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
3.6 (35 ratings by Goodreads)
Free delivery worldwide Expected delivery to the United States in 7-10 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.
Order now for expected delivery to the United States by Christmas Order now for expected delivery to the United States by Christmas


Most philosophers writing about personal identity in recent years claim that what it takes for us to persist through time is a matter of psychology. In this groundbreaking new book, Eric Olson argues that such approaches face daunting problems, and he defends in their place a radically non-psychological account of personal identity. He defines human beings as biological organisms, and claims that no psychological relation is either sufficient or necessary for an
organism to persist. Rejecting several famous thought experiments dealing with personal identity, he instead argues that one could survive the destruction of all of one's psychological contents and capabilities as long as the human organism remains alive.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 200 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 17mm | 325g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195134230
  • 9780195134230
  • 401,178

Review quote

A very clear and powerfully argued defence of a most important and surprisingly neglected view. * Derek Parfit, author of Reasons and Persons (All Souls College, Oxford) * For hundreds of years, almost all philosophers writing on the topic have supposed that personal identity is either entirely a matter of psychology or at least has an important and essential psychological component. This important book presents a powerful challenge to that assumption. If Dr. Olson is right, we are living animals and what goes on in our minds is wholly irrelevant to questions about our persistence through time. If this book receives the attention it
deserves, it will transform philosophical thinking about personal identity. * Peter van Inwagen, author of An Essay on Free Will, Material Beings, and Metaphysics (University of Notre Dame) * Olson's excellent and enjoyable book should be read by everyone with an interest in metaphysics. For those seriously interested in the philosophy of personal identity, or in our existence and identity, the matter is more serious; without much delay, you've got to get your hands on The Human Animal * Peter Unger, New York University * A significant contribution to the field. It issues several important challenges to proponents of a psychological approach to personal identity. * Carol Rovane, Yale University * Olson develops his main argument with a masterly touch. It is particularly refreshing to read a discussion of personal identity which is metaphysically serious. He has produced in me a deepened sense of the virtues of animalism, and I expect his book to do so in anyone who reads it. * Times Literary Supplement * The book as a whole is admirably succinct, clear, and forcefully argued, and is a fresh and enjoyable read. * IMind * This is the most original piece of writing on these matters that I have read in several years. I recommend it highly. * Philosophical Books *
show more

About Eric T. Olson

About the Author: Eric Olson is a Lecturer in philosophy at Cambridge University.
show more

Rating details

35 ratings
3.6 out of 5 stars
5 17% (6)
4 43% (15)
3 26% (9)
2 11% (4)
1 3% (1)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X