Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Unpredictable Species: What Makes Humans Unique Hardcover – April 21, 2013
|New from||Used from|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"Those who enjoy reading about evolution, cognition, biology, and the brain will find this a compelling and enjoyable book. Recommended as a highly engaging and thought-provoking work of popular science."--Library Journal
"[W]hat reader can resist this compelling invitation to reflect on what it means to be human?"--Booklist
"Just got your head around evolutionary psychology's core idea, that our genetic code, designed in and for prehistory, dictates our behaviour? Well, Lieberman argues it's wrong, but not to worry, as you will adapt. . . . This expansive, erudite book argues our brains and the way they work are immensely complex. . . . [T]here is something appealing in his idea that no single theory explains us."--Stephen Matchett, Australian
"The Unpredictable Species: What Makes Humans Unique is a delightful book. It is extremely well written, engaging, and a pleasure to read, as one might expect from a linguist. Author Philip Lieberman weaves throughout the rather extraordinary experiences he and his wife have had in the Himalayas, adding even more interest. The book is written for that legendary individual, the educated layperson, and is at the right level--informative and not too technical."--Richard F. Thompson, PsycCRITIQUES
"This book is a worthwhile addition to any collection that provides information about humans as a species."--Choice
"Lieberman creates an imminently readable text that is perfect for both general audiences and more established circles. This book should be considered as an excellent introduction for anyone who wants to delve into mysteries of the evolution of our unique brain."--Kate MacCord, Quarterly Review of Biology
"Lieberman's The Unpredictable Species . . . takes a fresh, insightful, sometimes resolutely critical, and fascinating stance toward the theme of the human uniqueness. The book is also rich in anecdotal accounts and examples that render its messages accessible also to the non-specialist, even though the course of the argumentation is not always linear."--Ivan Colagè, ESSSAT News & Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
However, what was dubious was the argument against Dawkins' Selfish Gene, which seemed to be based on a misreading. Lieberman gave the example of white fathers who sold children they had with their slaves into slavery. This was meant to show that culture overrides the selfishness of the gene's desire to replicate. But of course it does, this is the point where cultural evolution overtakes biological evolution. Obviously, genes of parents who do things like that are less likely to be passed on more than one generation. Yet if it does, then there is always a chance that the genes will continue to be passed on. Of course, since Lieberman further points out that our morality is not genetically determined, then there is no immorality in those genes to be passed on anyway. All the Selfish Gene means is that genes which favour their replication will tend to survive, which is an uncontroversial logical necessity.
Nonetheless, The Unpredictable Species was a decent read overall, with some interesting facts within, and will serve as a good introduction to the basal ganglia and language production for the uninitiated.
As to our being the unpredictable species, he says "... we possess the ability to change the manner in which we act towards each other and how we view the world around us." We are not ruled by a genes for this and other genes for that, but rather possess genes that develop the capacity for rich cognitive flexibility and learning cultural ways. We pass on these ways to our offsprings, giving them a leg up in creativity and expand possible alternatives in relating to each other and the environment. This indeed makes us unpredictable. He also acknowledges we are just set the starting point of understanding how our brains work and how they evolved.
Much of the book is polemical, as suits an emeritus professor. He slams many attempts that we can be explained in terms of innate knowledge and genetic determination.Read more ›