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Ten Theories of Human Nature [Paperback]

Leslie Stevenson , David L. Haberman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Twelve Theories of Human Nature Twelve Theories of Human Nature 4.3 out of 5 stars (3)
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Book Description

February 12, 2004 0195169743 978-0195169744 4
Over three 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. This thoroughly revised fourth edition features substantial new chapters on Aristotle and on evolutionary theories of human nature; the latter centers on Edward O. Wilson but also outlines the ideas of Emile Durkheim, B. F. Skinner, Nikolaas Tinbergen, Konrad Lorenz, Noam Chomsky, and recent evolutionary psychology. This edition also includes a rewritten introduction that invites readers (even if inclined toward fundamentalism, or to cultural relativism) to careful, critical thought about human nature; a useful new section that summarizes the history of ideas from the Stoics to the Enlightenment; and a new conclusion that suggests a way to synthesize the various theories.
Lucid and accessible, Ten Theories of Human Nature, 4/e, compresses into a small space the essence of such ancient traditions as Confucianism, Hinduism, and the Old and New Testaments as well as the theories of Plato, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The authors juxtapose the ideas of these and other thinkers and traditions in a way that helps readers understand how humanity has struggled to comprehend its nature. To encourage readers 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, Ten Theories of Human Nature, 4/e, will engage and motivate students and other readers to consider how we can understand and improve both ourselves and human society.

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for the previous edition:"A splendid little book. Stevenson has a gift for distilling the essentials of a point of view or system of thought. The chapters on Plato, Christianity, Marx, Freud, and Sartre are gems of expository clarity and critical good sense."--Michael Washburn, Indiana University, South Bend

"A lucid and fascinating introduction to some major theories."--Duncan Richter, Virginia Military Institute

"Easy-to-read and organized uniformly. An excellent foundation text for the course in Clinical Supervision, as understanding human nature is an essential antecedent to the development of supervisory theories."--George A. Jacinto, School of Social Work, University of Central Florida

"This was a good book when it first came out...and is a still better one now....A fine introduction to the big philosophical problems, a well-made map for bewildered students genning up to clear their minds for the next millennium."-Mary Midgley in the Times Higher Educational Supplement

"This was a good book when it first came out...and is a still better one now....A fine introduction to the big philosophical problems, a well-made map for bewildered students genning up to clear their minds for the next millennium."-Mary Midgley in The Times Higher Education Supplement

"Excellent introduction of the basic human events." --Doug Kenmar, Moody Bible Institute

"One of the best texts I've used in Critical Thinking classes (by student evaluation ratings too!) This is more than just a collection; it is well edited, thoughtfully annotated, and the selections work! Five stars: I"ll definitely use it again--and again!"--Donald K. Skiles, Chabot College --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Leslie Stevenson is at University of St. Andrews. David L. Haberman is at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 4 edition (February 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195169743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195169744
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, solid, still some surprises April 16, 2000
Socrates postulated that only the examined life was worth living. His great inspiring idea was that we can come to know the right way to live if we use our reason properly, and inquire in an open-minded, nondogmatic way.
In this spirit, "Ten Theories of Human Nature" does not restrict its inquiry to five major thinkers of the Western Tradition (Plato, Kant, Marx, Freud and Sartre), but includes three ancient religious traditions (Confucianism, Hinduism, and Christianity) as well as two scientific thinkers (Skinner and Lorenz).
Each of the ten theories is examined under four aspects:
(1) what is its theory about the world?
(2) what is its theory of the nature of human beings?
(3) what is its diagnosis of what is wrong with us?
(4) how can we put it right?
The result is a concise, well-balanced textbook with useful suggestions for further reading. It shows how the focus of each theory on different aspects of human existence branches out into elaborate (sometimes, arcane) systems of thought. It also illustrates how the dominance of very comprehensive theories, especially religious ones, is replaced in time by more scientific, narrow theories which increase our knowledge about human behavior in very particular, small aspects but tend to lose sight of larger, "non-scientific" issues.
While the authors claim at the beginning of their book to present "rival" theories, the book is actually open-minded about the contributions of each theory to the understanding of the human condition: they are adding up, rather than canceling out.
Meeting the ideas of Sartre, Skinner and Lorenz in the context of the book was an interesting experience for me. Surprisingly, I found that Sartre's ideas about freedom and choice could well form the philosophical basis of the main-stream American self-help book - a thought that any self-respecting French intellectual would definitely hate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good one stop read March 21, 2008
I have used this book as an ethics instructor for six years. The book is useful in identifying the multiple influences upon our lives for how we make ethical decisions. Our religious perspectives and understanding of behavioral sciences find residence in our lives, whether we are aware or not. It is through these we are formed and make decisions. Stevenson and Haberman present overviews of Taoism, Hinduism, and Judaism, as well as behavorial sciences and philosophy by examining these theories' underlying philosophies and intellectual difficulties. While Judaism and Christianity are not separated by chapter [but combined into one], and Islam is not given a full discussion, the book is useful for understanding the complexity of global interaction and how we can relate to the millions of people who hold religious or philosophical premises unlike our own.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introductory book September 24, 2001
I like the way the author analyzes the religions and thoughts that have influenced the course of world history. It doesn't compare one against the other so the reader is allowed to view the theory in a vacuum. I only wished that the author wrote a chapter on the importance of why we need to engage in such an endeavor that would set the trajectory of our lives. Great book!!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight on What Makes Us Human December 12, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Leslie Stevenson and David Haberman have produced a work that serves the undergraduate student of philosophy well since this work is accessible and conversational. Furthermore, the new fifth edition of Ten Theories of Human Nature contains some helpful improvements which include a new chapter on Buddhism, no chapter on Freud and a revised chapter on Darwinian theories of human nature. Stevenson's writing style is usually critical but he maintains a certain degree of scholarly distance from his subject matter. I've used this work in teaching classes on human nature and will continue to employ the fifth edition. I only have two quibbles with Stevenson, for the most part, besides his chapter on Darwin which I will not comment on now.

First, the chapter on the Bible is not written in an objective manner. Compare Haberman's approach to Hinduism or Confucianism with Stevenson's approach to the Bible (Hebrew and Christian): the chapters are as different as night and day. Now I am not saying that there is no legitimate place for critique in a discussion on the biblical religions. But the chapter on the Bible would be improved if Stevenson followed Haberman's lead since the chapters on Confucianism, Hinduism and now Buddhism reflect a sufficient degree of scholarly objectivity. When will the chapter on the Bible be treated similarly?

For example, in his attempt to analyze the Hebrew story of Abraham, Stevenson appears to equivocate in one part of his book (page 116). He asks, "Even if it [the command to kill Isaac] was only given as a 'test of faith,' what sort of God would play such a trick?" While Genesis 22:1 describes what happened in Abraham's case as a "test," it does not say that God (YHWH) tricked Abraham.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A threshold to understand human nature April 1, 2000
The authors attempt to compress 9 philosophers' senses of human nature into a small book. These 9 philosophers are Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Jean Paul Sartre, B.F. Skinner, and Konrad Lorenz, Confucius, Hinduism and Kant. In hope of making the comparison among these philosophers to be clear, the authors examine each theory in terms of nature of universe, nature of humanity, ills of the world, and proposed solution to cure the world. In short, this book should be an excellent threshold for a person who wants to approach human nature
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The book is a helpful tool in giving a brief analysis on different...
An interesting collection of perspectives on world thought. I especially liked the chapter on Confucianism as well as the chapters on Kant and Sartre. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dennis Waller
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
great book!
Published 2 months ago by Jung Hyun Oh
4.0 out of 5 stars HAVE LOOK AT THE WHOLE BOOK
great book, just look at the book but class has not started yet, so far looks good, MAYBE A FIVE STAR AFTER CLASS.
Published 3 months ago by MICHELLE E. JONES
5.0 out of 5 stars the best book!!
i fell in love with philosophy when i bought this book. it was required for school, the shipping was fast and although it was already used it was intact. Read more
Published 12 months ago by gerch1
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for understanding of others
The book is a good survey of the theories by which much of the world lives. The authors seem relatively unbiased and fair. It achieved the value that I was seeking.
Published 13 months ago by CMC
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice read
The materials are not too hard for philosophy beginners. This book discussed ten important schools of philosophy, both ancient and modern, from a non-bias standpoint -This is very... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Bao H.
3.0 out of 5 stars Ten Theories of Human Nature
I bought this book as I was taking a class that it was suggested as a resource. Have not read it yet but feel that it was a indicated and will get around to reading it soon.
Published 18 months ago by janet caldwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I really enjoyed this book, especially Confucius and Buddism were the most interesting to me. To get an idea of the history and culture behind much of these philosophies and... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Issabella
4.0 out of 5 stars Ten Theories of Human Nature
Interesting read for my son. He is impressed with the book. This is a school requirement for him. He learnt of different theories.
Published on November 4, 2011 by Leon O
3.0 out of 5 stars Deep
I had to buy and read this book for a college class. It is ok, but can get very deep and made my mind spin at times. I wouldn't read it for fun.
Published on January 31, 2009 by M. Batz
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