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Ten Theories of Human Nature 5th Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195368253
ISBN-10: 0195368258
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Ten Theories of Human Nature, to my delight, seems to be a starting point for class discussions, private reflections, and further examination of the theories in general. The authors have hit the best balance possible between accessibility and fluency in their style. 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


About the Author

Leslie Stevenson is an Honorary Reader in Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. David L. Haberman is a Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University at Bloomington.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 5 edition (November 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195368258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195368253
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.6 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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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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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. the book broadened my knowledge about life and how diff ppl have diff perspective of it. i loved all the reading but my favorite was Confucius because he broke things down between destiny and the decree of heaven...i enjoyed the class and received a better grade for it.
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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 beliefs was really interesting. I enjoyed the introductions to all these different theories and such.
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Format: Paperback
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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