Being Human: Historical Knowledge and the Creation of Human Nature by Roger SmithBeing Human: Historical Knowledge and the Creation of Human Nature by Roger Smith

Being Human: Historical Knowledge and the Creation of Human Nature

byRoger Smith

Hardcover | September 11, 2007

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Challenging commonly held biological, religious, and ethical beliefs, internationally well known historian of science Roger Smith boldly argues that human nature is not some "thing" awaiting discovery but is active in understanding itself. According to Smith, "being human" is a self-creation made possible through a reflective circle of thought and action, with a past and a future, and studying this "history" from a range of perspectives is fundamental to human self-understanding.

Smith's argument brings together historical and contemporary debates concerning materialism and human nature and the relations of the different fields of knowledge. He draws on classic writings from across the human sciences, touching on sociology, anthropology, brain sciences, history, philosophical hermeneutics, and critical theory, and demonstrates that there is no position outside history for an absolutely objective or eternally valid view of human nature. The question "what is human?" does not have and could not possible have one answer. Instead, there exists a variety of answers for different purposes, and there are good reasons for the many conceptions of what it is to be human.

Smith does not treat human nature as only biological, economic, or moral, but as a multidimensional subject that should be considered in its proper historical context. By understanding this context, Smith believes, we can come to a truer understanding of ourselves. Persuasively and elegantly written, Being Human takes an important new turn in the philosophical study of being human.

Roger Smith is reader emeritus in the history of science at Lancaster University, consultant at the Institute for the History of Science and Technology, and associate at the Institute of Psychology, the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.
Title:Being Human: Historical Knowledge and the Creation of Human NatureFormat:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.41 × 1.5 × 0.98 inPublished:September 11, 2007Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231141661

ISBN - 13:9780231141666

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. Being Human2. Reflexive Knowledge3. Relations of the Natural4. Precedents for the Human Sciences5. Historical Knowledge6. Values and KnowledgeEpilogue: On Human Self-CreationBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Highly ambitious, the scope of Roger Smith's argument is impressive, as are the breadth of references and the clear summarizing of daunting works and complex controversies. Being Human will appeal to a wide range of scholars and students in the human sciences and the history of science and philosophy.