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Twelve Theories of Human Nature

Sixth Edition

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

Publication Date - September 2012

ISBN: 9780199859030

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

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $45.95

An exceptionally lucid and accessible introduction to twelve of the most influential theories of human nature


Over five previous editions, Ten Theories of Human Nature has been a remarkably popular introduction to some of the most influential developments in Western and Eastern thought. Now titled Twelve Theories of Human Nature, the sixth edition adds chapters on Islam (by Peter Wright) and Freud to those on Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Plato, Aristotle, the Bible, Kant, Marx, 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, philosophy, religious studies, 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

  • Now includes an updated section comparing Marxism and Christianity in the Introduction
  • An updated section "Some philosophical tools" explaining basic philosophical distinctions in the Introduction
  • Now features a completely new chapter on Islam, by Peter Wright
  • The chapter on Freud, cut in the last edition, has been reinstated and updated
  • Increased from covering ten theories to covering twelve theories.

About the Author(s)

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

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

Peter Matthews Wright is Assistant Professor of Religion at Colorado College.

Previous Publication Date(s)

November 2008
February 2004
October 1998


"Twelve Theories of Human Nature is the exact model of what an introductory textbook should be: a student coming to the subject for the first time will be able to understand the contentions of different (and difficult) theories of human nature; at the same time, nothing here is dumbed down. The book is consistently clear, precise, deep, engaging, and accurate."--Brian R. Clack, University of San Diego

"Excellent. I have been using this book since the first edition. The inclusion of the treatment of evolutionary theories of human nature is particularly valuable."--Val Dusek, University of New Hampshire

"I have asked my students often whether they think the text is one they would like me to assign again next semester and they agree again and again. There really is no other better book."--Patricia Turrisi, University of North Carolina-Wilmington

"I cannot think of another philosophy text written for the undergraduate on this topic that is as clear, unpretentious, and informative as this book."--Zachary Ernst, University of Missouri-Columbia

Table of Contents

    *=New to this Edition
    Introduction: Rival Theories and Critical Assessments
    1. Confucianism: The Way of the Sages, by David L. Haberman
    2. Upanishadic Hinduism: Quest for Ultimate Knowledge, by David L. Haberman
    3. Buddhism: In the Footsteps of the Buddha, by David L. Haberman
    4. Plato: The Rule of Reason
    5. Aristotle: The Ideal of Human Fulfillment
    6. The Bible: Humanity in Relation to God
    * 7. Islam: Submission to God, by Peter Matthews Wright
    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
    Conclusion: A Synthesis of the Theories?