- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 4 edition (February 12, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195169743
- ISBN-13: 978-0195169744
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.7 x 5.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ten Theories of Human Nature 4th Edition
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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.
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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.
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. I believe that Stevenson equivocates when he moves from "test" to "trick." The two words are not synonymous. The implication that God MIGHT have been "tricking" Abraham seems unfair to me, even if Stevenson does follow up this comment with the mention of another possible interpretation of the Abrahamic narrative. Then again, he also levels critical words at Martin Heidegger's writing style like "Heidegger's language is strange and difficult" (page 183). Maybe Stevenson is not partial in toto after all.
Finally, I have found a small technical error in Stevenson's book. On page 130, Stevenson quotes Augustine as saying, "I believe in order to understand" (CREDO UT INTELLIGAM); yet that is not what the ancient bishop said. The expression CREDO UT INTELLIGAM was uttered or written by Anselm of Canterbury (the so-called father of Medieval theology). Augustine actually said or wrote the words "CREDE, UT INTELLIGAS" (Believe, in order to understand). See Augustine's Sermon 43.7, 9 and Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology, pages 85-86.