Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind
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Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  76 ratings  ·  13 reviews
A timely and uniquely compelling plea for the importance of nurture in the ongoing nature-nurture debate.

In this era of genome projects and brain scans, it is all too easy to overestimate the role of biology in human psychology. But in this passionate corrective to the idea that DNA is destiny, Jesse Prinz focuses on the most extraordinary aspect of human nature: that nurt...more
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published November 19th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published August 1st 2011)
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Prinz is the antidote to contemporary analytic philosophy's agoraphobia. He presents a unified empiricist picture of mind and language and morality that matches the ambition of Hume and Russell. Though Prinz can't match the literary merit of the great empiricists, he successfully carries out the project set out in the subtitle of Hume's Treatise: "An Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects".
Kathleen Brugger
If you care about human beings and our future you should hope this book is right. Mr. Prinz is a philosopher, and he believes that the nature-nurture debate has swung too far towards nature in this era when molecular biology and neurobiology are ascendant. This book was written to try and swing the balance back towards nurture.

If nature is a bigger factor, then we are all stuck with what we were given at our conception. But if Mr. Prinz right and nurture is more important, then we all have the c...more
Vivek Tejuja
Why do people from one culture think and see things differently from another? Why do they almost feel and also emote differently in some situations? There are so many instances when people from a different race or culture act and think differently and yet while most of us question the differences, there are times when thoughts regarding those do not cross our mind. The differences also stem from the nurture or the nature angle, which there have long gone been debates about in our world.

The book...more
Peter Herrmann
Good counter-arguments to Steven Pinker's "Blank Slate." Counter-arguments perhaps too strong ... Prinz doesn't deny human nature, but claims it's controlling influence has been - at times - overstated.

Tightly organized, well-elucidated, seems to cover all the ground (but I'm no expert). Calls into question the interpretations results of many earlier studies - making you realize that much care needs to be given to interpreting any study's results.

Gives us hope (somewhat); ie - that we're not so...more
Prinz's book is a meditation on the way our cultural environment shapes our development, as individuals and as a species. He takes exception to recent 'naturist' research in the field, and challenges many theories about 'innate' characteristics. (I'm guessing that, if you're a naturist, you'll probably like this book a whole lot less than I did, but I found it gave me much to consider about the way in which humans learn and form societies.)
Peter Mcloughlin
It made strong arguments for Nurture playing the dominant role in a lot of behaviours. I was unconvinced in a few areas. In sex differences cognitive differences I think are cultural but when it came to sexual attitudes and behaviour I thought Nature pretty much dominates and the authors arguments were unconvincing. Most of the book was pretty strong in making the case that most of our behaviours are enviromentally dependent.
A worthy opponent of Stephen Pinker, Noam Chomsky and a great many other proponents of evolutionary psychology.

Prinz clearly and persuasively debunks or re-interprets the talking points of those seeking a model of human traits anchored in evolutionary theory.
Jane Walker
Are we the result of nature (our inherited traits) or nurture, the effect of the environment. Prinz is on the side of nurture, and goes systematically through the research to prove his point. The book is interesting and persuasive.
I am very interested in this subject, but not enough to slog through this repetitive book. There's just too much information, and too much nature vs. nurture talk. I don't need convincing, I already agree with the premise.
Phew! That was a slog.

Don't get me wrong, it was an interesting read, but I was expecting something a bit lighter than this apologist's textbook for the Nuturist's crowd...

In the nature versus nurture argument, this brilliant book comes down hard in favor of nurture.
Angela Powell
A well written book on a very interesting premise. Insightful and educative.
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Jesse J. Prinz is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and director of the Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. He lives in New York.
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