What Is Man?
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

What Is Man?

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  252 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The Shelf2Life Literature and Fiction Collection is a unique set of short stories, poems and novels from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. From tales of love, life and heartbreaking loss to humorous stories of ghost encounters, these volumes captivate the imaginations of readers young and old. Included in this collection are a variety of dramatic and spirited poems th...more
Paperback, Large Print, 308 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by BCR (Bibliographical Center for Research) (first published 1906)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 631)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Shari
Twain gives a powerful argument in this work about the nature of man. Through a dialogue between an old man and a young man, Twain argues through the voice of the former that everything about a man is the product of his 'conditioning', that (get this) "From his cradle to his grave a man never does a single thing which has any first and foremost object but one - to secure peace of mind, spiritual comfort, for himself." (And all that is written in big letters.)

Hmmm...

The Old Man further argues tha...more
hanan al-herbish al-herbish
كتاب بمثابة صفعات متوالية
تعيد ترتيب الأشياء في ذهنك ..

رغم قل عدد الصفحات .. إلا أن الكتاب أستغرق صاحبه
زمناً طويلاً .. درساً ، بحثا ، و مراجعة .!

أحببت أسلوب مارك توين كثيراً ..
أسلوب سلس مميز و فريد ..

تدور فكرة الكتاب حول الإجابة عن سؤال :

" ما الإنسان ؟ "

الإجابات رغم معرفتنا بها .. إلا أنها اتخذت
شكلاً صادماً ..

هذه الكتب ... بالفعل تستحق القراءة و التأمل ..!

Emy Jabran
تجربتي الاولى مع مؤلفات توين... كانت خارج المجال الذي اشتهر فيه (الكوميديا),

الكتاب حوار فلسفي هميق صاغ فيه توين افكاره حول الانسان ومفاهيم مثل التضحية,
الانسان من وجهة نظره "عبد" للأنا وغايته ارضاء الأنا حتى يتمكن من العيش, ما نظن اننا نفعله للآخر ليس في الواقع الا فعل لارضاء انفسنا اولا وللتجنب احساس الذنب او اسعاد الانا بموقف شهم

خلاصة الكتاب ان هدف الانسان في كل ما يقوم به "ارضاء الذات".ت
Drsina121
A very truthful book.
Jonathon
What Is Man?

Apparently man is a selfish prick that can't think for himself and relies on "outside influences". He is a chameleon. He is nothing but a mere machine. Well, at least according to Twain. Man is a fraud and only lives for himself. He is really driving home this point that everyone is selfish and acts out of selfish needs (big surprise?), even if viewed (publicly and personally) as a self-sacrificing person. My question is; who cares? If the end result is the same, what does the action...more
Everett Pantaloons
A non-satirical work by Twain in the form of Socratic-like dialogue between an Old Man arguing that man is merely a machine with no free will or self-sacrifice (a determinist) and a Young Man who is hesitant to believe him without requiring much elaboration first.

This has been on my mental to-read list for quite some time; nearly a year now. I read snippets of it when I had first began learning about Determinism here and there. Reading it now I can't say it really told me anything I didn't know...more
Andrew
I really enjoyed this, but certainly not because of the bleak reality of the human condition! This is certainly a book to get your head working, and you may find yourself going into various bouts of self-analysis just to find out how much of Old Mark's theories are true, and how much they apply to your own life.
It is frighteningly obvious sometimes, that we are indeed blinded by what we go through on a daily basis. I have trouble accepting ( as did Young Mark! ) that we are selfish by nature, an...more
Ally Wheeler
this is Twain's philosophy of man, his anthropology. Man is a machine--Twain I think was relatively disappointed in man...
Josh Hanagarne
Great little Socratic dialogue occurring between an Old Man and a Young Man.

The OM's premise is that man is a machine, we each perform according to our make and model, and that everything we do is according to the Gospel of Self Approval.

Twain admitted that many of the thoughts expressed in What Is Man? made him very uncomfortable, but that he did think he had it right. It's easy to see why. Letting go of the idea of free will is certainly unnerving, and prompts many discomfiting questions. A...more
Judith
e-book from Project Gutenberg, 229 pages, released 11 May 2009

I'd never much enjoyed Huckleyberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, so I didn't think I'd like this so much.

However, the essays in this collection are interesting, thought-provoking and engaging. I liked the Shakespeare essay and I found that the essence of Twain's beliefs as presented in "What is Man?" really were apparent throughout his writing career.

Chad
This is Twain at his best. His prescient ability to understand what motivates morality in humans was probably 80 years ahead of modern psychology. Here's a great quote: "Diligently train your ideals upward and still upward toward a summit where you will find your chiefest pleasure in conduct which, while contenting you, will be sure to confer benefits upon your neighbor and the community."
Moejito
Mark Twain made a great effort in his essay "What is Man". Although it had so many anecdotes, Twain was able to insert some 19th-20th century scientific facts(not necessary valid for today's discoveries). Other than that, I wished Twain lived up to this day by which could have included some discoveries in Neuropsychology, which would have been added more to a complicated subject like this one.
Blair
Recommended to me by my roommate in our various philosophical discussions. I still need to ponder this some more. Still having trouble with his explanation of the mind being separate from a moral self, etc. also, I'd like to think more about what the results of this might be as regards moral responsibility.
K
The essay "what is man?" is OK, but it is the other essays in the book on religion, the church, and god that I really enjoyed. Mark Twain became increasing cynical with age and was heavily influenced by Darwin and evolutionary theory.
J.ruzhyo
A couple odds and ends essays from Twain that are a delight to fans of his writing. His wit shows through most of them and his expose on Shakespeare is enough to put probable doubt into the question of his literary prowess.
Maggie
as only mark twain can deliver: turning cynicism into instruction and humor. most worth the time to read this collection. be sure to keep your critical reading skills near-to-hand; good satire requires that caveat
Rav
The first impressive piece of philosophy I've had the pleasure to read. It left quite an impression on me. As far as I can remember, it was a well written work as one might expect of Mark Twain. Worth reading.

-Rav
Scott
A great piece of philosophy and an entertaining read. It is a discussion between an older learned gentleman and a young scholar in which the elder asserts that man is nothing but a machine and has no original thought.
Robert White
Feb 04, 2008 Robert White rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Robert by: Jon Demiglio
this is honestly the most intriguing book i have ever read. i highly recommend this book to everyone. it will completely alter the way you look and mankind and human personality.
Enoch
Contains a fascinating discussion on how we humans defend our cherished truths despite any evidence that may contradict it and how very difficult it is to keep an open mind.
Seth Olson
This book encompasses the core of what I have come to understand the in more difficult ways. It remains as true and controversial today as it did over 100 years ago.
Jack Dinkel
Very, VERY thought provoking. Some holes in his argument of course, and I in no way agree with him, but this challenges you to think about your life in a new way.
Michael Venzke
closest book I remember reading that describes the way I think about most things (as the old man in the book) - except for the bits about god.
Blake
several great writings in this .. there are also several .. not so great ones.. but over all I did like the book
Vicky
Makes you reflect on your being.!
Mark Twain understands human psychology like no other.
John Cloud
I can actually say that for today, this book has changed my perspective on life.
Erika Beebe
All time favorite book. Quirky. Funny. Creative. Can't beat this read.
Marc
Fairly ponderous and I still don't know what it was I read.
Johnny
Dance space monkey.....Dance.
Kateri Ross
Good book because it makes you think.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 21 22 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Incredibly Strange Music, Vol. One
  • The Illuminati Papers
  • The Manufacture of Madness
  • William S. Burroughs, Throbbing Gristle, Brion Gysin
  • Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants
  • Not-Knowing:  The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme
  • The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-six
  • Thousand Years of Nonlinear History
  • Bats Out of Hell
  • Political Ideals
  • A Mencken Chrestomathy
  • The Sadeian Woman: And the Ideology of Pornography
  • The Complete Short Stories
  • Spanking the Maid
  • The Gay Place
  • Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields
  • I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World
  • I Can't Go On, I'll Go On: A Samuel Beckett Reader
1244
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work...more
More about Mark Twain...
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Prince and the Pauper A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Pudd'nhead Wilson

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creatures that cannot.” 136 likes
“I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts.” 16 likes
More quotes…