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Thirteen Theories of Human Nature

Seventh Edition

Leslie Stevenson, David L. Haberman, Peter Matthews Wright, and Charlotte Witt

Publication Date - June 2017

ISBN: 9780190604721

336 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

An exceptionally lucid and accessible introduction to thirteen of the most influential theories of human nature, from both Western and Eastern thought


Over six previous editions, Twelve Theories of Human Nature has been a remarkably popular introduction to some of the most influential developments in Western and Eastern thought. Now titled Thirteen Theories of Human Nature, the seventh edition adds a chapter on feminist theory to those on Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Plato, Aristotle, the Bible, Islam, Kant, Marx, Freud, Sartre, and Darwinism. The authors juxtapose the ideas of these and other thinkers and traditions in a way that helps students understand how humanity has struggled to comprehend its nature.

To encourage students to think critically for themselves and to underscore the similarities and differences between the many theories, the book examines each one on four points--the nature of the universe, the nature of humanity, the diagnosis of the ills of humanity, and the proposed cure for these problems.

Ideal for introductory courses in human nature, introduction to philosophy, and intellectual history, this unique volume will engage and motivate students and other readers to consider how we can understand and improve both ourselves and human society.

New to this Edition

  • A new thirteenth chapter on feminist theories of human nature by contributing author Charlotte Witt
  • The discussion of ethical and religious implications of evolution, formerly part of the book's conclusion, now appears as a fourth section in Chapter 12, Darwinian Theories of Human Nature
  • Key terms, bolded at their first occurrence, listed at the end of each chapter, and defined in a glossary at the end of the book
  • New questions for discussion at the end of each chapter, providing material for further reflection, classroom dialogue, and assignments


  • Provides a concise and accessible introduction to Eastern and Western theories of human nature, featuring perspectives from Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Plato, Aristotle, the Bible, Islam, Kant, Marx, Freud, Sartre, Darwinism, and Feminist Philosophy
  • A four-part parallel chapter structure allows for easy comparison and analysis of theories. Each chapter examines the highlighted theory's ideas on the nature of the universe, the nature of humanity, its diagnosis of the ills of humanity, and its proposed cure for these problems.
  • An introduction invites readers to think carefully and critically about human nature
  • A "Historical Interlude" mini-chapter summarizes the history of ideas from the Stoics to the Enlightenment

About the Author(s)

Leslie Stevenson is Honorary Reader in Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.

David L. Haberman is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University at Bloomington.

Peter Matthews Wright is Associate Professor and Chair of Religion at Colorado College.

Charlotte Witt is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at the University of New Hampshire.


"I consider Thirteen Theories of Human Nature to be the best text available for undergraduate classes in human nature, views of humankind, or influential worldviews."--Jeff Jordan, University of Delaware

"Thirteen Theories of Human Nature is an excellent investigation into the history of the evolution of the concept of human nature, tracking the momentous philosophical and religious transformations that have shaped the debate."--Ben Miller, Florida State University

Table of Contents

    Preface to the Seventh Edition
    Introduction: Rival Theories and Critical Assessments
    1. Confucianism: The Way of the Sages
    2. Upanishadic Hinduism: Quest for Ultimate Knowledge
    3. Buddhism: In the Footsteps of the Buddha
    4. Plato: The Rule of Reason
    5. Aristotle: The Ideal of Human Fulfillment
    6. The Bible: Humanity in Relation to God
    7. Islam: The Khalifa Ideal
    Historical Interlude
    8. Kant: Reasons and Causes, Morality and Religion
    9. Marx: The Economic Basis of Human Societies
    10. Freud: The Unconscious Basis of Mind
    11. Sartre: Radical Freedom
    12. Darwinian Theories of Human Nature
    13. Human Nature and Feminist Theory