Beyond Evolution: Human Nature and the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation

Paperback | August 15, 1999

byAnthony Ohear

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Anthony O'Hear takes a stand against the fashion for explaining human behaviour in terms of evolution. He maintains, controversially, that while the theory of evolution is successful in explaining the development of the natural world in general, it is of limited value when applied to the humanworld. Because of our reflectiveness and our rationality we take on goals and ideals which cannot be justified in terms of survival-promotion or reproductive advantage. O'Hear examines the nature of human self-consciousness, and argues that evolutionary theory cannot give a satisfactory account ofsuch distinctive facets of human life as the quest for knowledge, moral sense, and the appreciation of beauty; in these we transcend our biological origins. It is our rationality that allows each of us to go beyond not only our biological but also our cultural inheritance: as the author says in thePreface, 'we are prisoners neither of our genes nor of the ideas we encounter as we each make our personal and individual way through life'.

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From Our Editors

When we admire a crystal blue lake, do we find beauty purely in the aesthetic or does our subconscious tell us that the water, the fish in it and the surrounding trees and fertile soil are necessary elements for our survival? Some people believe that our biological needs control our behaviour and contend that sex, for example, is only ...

From the Publisher

Anthony O'Hear takes a stand against the fashion for explaining human behaviour in terms of evolution. He maintains, controversially, that while the theory of evolution is successful in explaining the development of the natural world in general, it is of limited value when applied to the humanworld. Because of our reflectiveness and ou...

Anthony O'Hear is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bradford. He is Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, Editor of the journal Philosophy, and a member of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and of the Teacher Training Authority.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:230 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.51 inPublished:August 15, 1999Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198250045

ISBN - 13:9780198250043

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Table of Contents

1. Mind and Nature2. Immanent and Transcendent Dimensions of Reason3. Self-Conscious Belief4. Evolutionary Epistemology5. Evolution and Epistemological Pessimism6. Morality and Politics7. Beauty and the Theory of Evolution8. ConclusionsBibliographyIndex

From Our Editors

When we admire a crystal blue lake, do we find beauty purely in the aesthetic or does our subconscious tell us that the water, the fish in it and the surrounding trees and fertile soil are necessary elements for our survival? Some people believe that our biological needs control our behaviour and contend that sex, for example, is only pleasurable so that we will continue to have the desire to propagate the species. Anthony O’Hear argues that rationality-based theories cannot explain everything about human existence in Beyond Evolution: Human Nature and the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation.

Editorial Reviews

`challenging new book ... The line of argument pursued by O'Hear should be apparent, and it is applied with equal deftness to morality and aesthetics ... a profound, subtle and brilliantly argued book.' David S. Oderberg, Spectator