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Published: 05 November 1992

416 Pages

5-7/8 x 8-15/16 inches

ISBN: 9780195077070

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Bookseller Code (06)

In Search of Human Nature

The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought

Carl N. Degler

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1972, and a past president of both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, Carl Degler is one of America's most eminent living historians. He is also one of the most versatile. In a forty year career, he has written brilliantly on race (Neither Black Nor White, which won the Pulitzer Prize), women's studies (At Odds, which Betty Friedan called "a stunning book"), Southern history, the New Deal, and many other subjects. Now, in The Search for Human Nature, Degler turns to perhaps his largest subject yet, a sweeping history of the impact of Darwinism (and biological research) on our understanding of human nature, providing a fascinating overview of the social sciences in the last one hundred years.
Just how much of human nature is determined by genetics? With this sweeping book, Pulitzer prize-winning historian Carl Degler provides an engrossing account of how we have grappled with that question, by tracing the impact of Darwinism on the social sciences in the last hundred years. The idea of biological roots to human nature was almost universally accepted at the turn of the century--and was used to reinforce prejudice against women, non-whites, and the poor (whose positions were seen as the result of genetic weakness), until it was discredited by the likes of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and B.F. Skinner. But more recently, Degler writes, under the influence of Konrad Lorenz, Jane Goodall, Edward O. Wilson, and others, a more objective approach has uncovered new links between evolution and human behavior. A masterful work by one of America's preeminent historians, In Search of Human Nature sheds brilliant new light on an essential question--and how changing times have influenced the answers we have found.

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