By Mary Midgley
Philosophers have regularly targeting the features that make humans diversified from different species. In Beast and guy Mary Midgley, considered one of our optimum intellectuals, stresses continuities. What makes humans tick? principally, she asserts, an identical issues as animals. She tells us people are way more like different animals than we formerly allowed ourselves to think, and reminds us simply how primitive we're compared to the sophistication of many animals. A veritable vintage for our age, Beast and guy has helped swap the best way we predict approximately ourselves and the realm within which we are living.
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Additional info for Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature
13 can be understood on its own. Had we known no other animate life-form than our own, we should have been utterly mysterious to ourselves as a species. And that would have made it immensely harder for us to understand ourselves as individuals too. Anything that puts us in context, that shows us as part of a continuum, an example of a type that varies on intelligible principles, is a great help. People welcome seeing how animals behave, either directly or on film, in just the same way in which a man who had begun to practice, say, mathematics or dancing on his own would welcome seeing others who were already doing it, though differently.
But Hobbes still made it central and probably never realized how much this circular psychology limited the value of his political theory. I suspect that Marx’s position was similar. Nietzsche, when he made the Will to Power a primary motive, did try to give it a more direct meaning. He thought of power as straightforward dominance over other people—indeed, more specifically still, delight in tormenting them 7 —which is certainly clearer, but happens to be false, except of psychopaths. Now Paul certainly might be just being ostentatious, buying land he did not want, solely because he saw other rich men doing so.
1, chap. 1. understand our genetic constitution. 6 The notion that reformers can do without this understanding is a bizarre tactical aberration, closely comparable to that of the Christian church in the nineteenth century when it rejected the theory of evolution—and indeed rather like its similar rejection of Galileo in the seventeenth. In both these cases, the church exhausted, distorted, and discredited itself in order to combat a quite imaginary danger. Most Christians today readily accept that the earth does not have to be in the middle of the universe, and that God, if he could create life at all, could do it just as well through evolution as by instant fiat.
Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature by Mary Midgley