Biology and Freedom: An Essay on the Implications of Human by S. A. Barnett

By S. A. Barnett

Biology and Freedom is an essay on human nature; an try and make a simply overview of a species usually offered as predominantly and necessarily violent, grasping, and silly. Likening humans to animals is a standard approach to influencing attitudes on questions of morals and politics. right here, Professor Barnett exhibits that smooth ethology, experimental psychology, genetics, and evolutionary concept supply the presently trendy misanthrophy no genuine aid. He asks even if the speculation of evolution has any relating, for example, Machiavellianism in politics or the idea that of unique sin; and no matter if laboratory experiments at the results of gift and punishment let us know whatever worthy approximately why we paintings, or concerning the enigma of unfastened will. Combining the findings of contemporary biology with good judgment and humor, Professor Barnett provides a lucid replacement portrait of humanity. He stresses the questions that the complexities of human lifestyles will elevate lengthy after the at present stylish theories have light. All these attracted to those questions, within the fact approximately human nature, and sooner or later of human society should want to learn this publication.

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He has much in common (while sane) with Machiavelli and Hobbes; but his views are more extreme and even more explicit than theirs, though much less well argued. His outlook is expressed in the titles of two of his works, The Will to Power and Beyond Good and Evil; but his most widely read book is Thus Spake Zarathustra. These works are marked by scorn for conventional morals and indifference to the welfare of the majority. Admiration is reserved for men of power, or Ubermensch (especially Napoleon Buonaparte).

But as the first way often proves inadequate one must needs have recourse to the second. So a prince must understand how to make a nice use of the beast and the man. . A prince . . should learn from the fox and the lion; because the lion is defenceless against traps and a fox is defenceless against wolves. 14 A prudent ruler, he adds, should not keep his word when it would be inconvenient to do so: instead he should imitate the fox, for history is full of examples of the success of this method.

M. H. Cole, this is a source of regret. 'Again and again', he writes, social theorists, instead of . . 27 And so society (he continues) has been likened to a mechanism, an organism, or a person. In this passage Cole seems to urge social scientists to surrender all their metaphors, which is perhaps asking too much. We are, however, justified in complaining when a literary device conceals an attempt to influence our attitudes. A writer refers, say, to the state as a father, and to its citizens as children, and so implies that the state looks after the citizens and that the citizens, in turn, should obey the state authority.

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