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How We Got to Be Human: Subjective Minds With Objective Bodies Hardcover – August 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 377 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; English Language edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573928135
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573928137
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,567,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this freewheeling, unorthodox study of human origins and behavior, science writer Libaw argues that while females abandoned estrus (periodic itch for sexual activity) as they evolved from upright apes to human beings, males genetically retained animal rut and expanded it into year-round endless lusting for sexually receptive females. In this scenario, males invented courtship and foreplay to interest and hold estrus-free females; meanwhile, hominid Lucy learned that her sexuality was valuable to males, a convertible bargaining chip, and patriarchal culture, combined with genetic inheritance, made men more promiscuous than women. Libaw wages a running irreverent critique of the ideas of Stephen Jay Gould, Marvin Harris, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett, Roger Penrose, Jeffrey Masson and others as he tosses off heretic theories. Full-fledged spoken language, he believes, came first from the brains and mouths of a small community of young children and only later took root among adults, supplanting the proto-language adults used to perform cooperative tasks. Tweaking his nose at establishment science, Libaw contends that apes think about power and sex, and that the communicative gestures of chimps and some birds imply that animals experience some form of conscious mentation. But he rejects the idea (popularized by Masson) that lower animals and apes have reflective consciousness. Among the other hypotheses and proposals in this sometimes provocative grab bag: magic and religion were very close cousins millennia ago, then diverged; childhood is about getting love, not giving it; the out-of-Africa theory of human origins may be fatally flawed. Libaw attempts, audaciously and unconventionally, if highly speculatively, to pierce the subjective mental realm extending from animals to early humans to us. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"...provocative grab bag..." -- Publishers Weekly, July 10, 2000

"...takes evolutionary theory beyond the physical, diving into the origin of human consciousness..." -- Today's Librarian

"A fascinating and well-constructed explanation of human evolution written in everyday language and with a sense of humor." -- Vern L. Bullough, coauthor of Sexual Attitudes

"A thinking person's book that requires no prior technical knowledge." -- Cheryl Armon, Ed.D., professor of Human Development, Antioch University

"Read this book and be prepared to have your fundamental presuppositions changed." -- Michael Shermer, publisher, Skeptic Magazine

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thaddeus Hanscom on November 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a big fan of Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins, I was eager to see what "how we got to be HUMAN" would add to the general evolutionary dialogue. I didn't agree with all the chapters, but I found each to be lively and challenging. The author covers a prodigious amount of ground, but if you're prepared to move quickly, you'll enjoy the walk.
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