Biology and Freedom: An Essay on the Implications of Human Ethology

Couverture
Cambridge University Press, 1988 - 376 pages
Biology and Freedom is an essay on human nature; an attempt to make a just assessment of a species often presented as predominantly and unavoidably violent, greedy, and stupid. Likening human beings to animals is a traditional method of influencing attitudes on questions of morals and politics. Here, Professor Barnett shows that modern ethology, experimental psychology, genetics, and evolutionary theory give the currently fashionable misanthrophy no authentic support. He asks whether the theory of evolution has any bearing on, for instance, Machiavellianism in politics or the concept of original sin; and whether laboratory experiments on the effects of reward and punishment tell us anything useful about why we work, or about the enigma of free will. Combining the findings of modern biology with logic and humor, Professor Barnett gives a lucid alternative portrait of humanity. He stresses the questions that the complexities of human existence will raise long after the currently fashionable theories have faded. All those interested in these questions, in the truth about human nature, and in the future of human society will want to read this book.
 

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Table des matières

Four portraits
1
Ancient pessimism
7
Animals and analogy
16
Homology
23
Communication and instinct
33
Territory
41
The law of the jungle
48
The limitations of ethology
54
A paradox
138
Education and intelligence
146
Britain and the USA
153
After Hitler
160
Equality
170
Conditioning and improvisation
178
Work and play
207
The reductionist imperative
229

The aggression labyrinth
56
Evolution and natural selection
80
Questions on variation
86
The contribution of sociobiology
92
Design or tinkering?
98
Racial differences
107
Not in our stars
113
Our neighbors and our kin
124
The popular imperative
131
Human communication
251
Teaching and tradition
270
The question
284
Glossary
303
Notes
316
References
336
Name index
361
Subject index
369
Droits d'auteur

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