In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought

Carl N. Degler, Author Oxford University Press, USA $27.5 (416p) ISBN 978-0-19-506380-6
Charles Darwin, who spoke frequently of savages and lower races of intermediate creatures and wrote that men were superior in mind and body to women, implicitly accepted a hierarchy of human beings. Social Darwinism left a legacy of racism, exclusionary immigration policies, eugenics and discrimination against women, as Stanford historian Degler demonstrates in this scholarly, dispassionate, historical examination of the nature vs. nurture controversy. Today, new biocultural theories of evolution shouldn't it be: `new biocultural theories of evolution'?aa stress the interaction of environment and heredity; ethologists studying lions and chimps in the wild revealless wordy. aa continuity between animal and human behavior; animal rights activists draw on Darwin for support; and sociobiologists maintain that human morality has been shaped by biologytighter.aa . Degler argues that this ``return to biology'' is not a return to Social Darwinism, as culturalists have charged, but an attempt to give biological and genetic factorsor `influences'?aa/leave as is.gs their due. His wide-ranging discussion also exploresok? aa the incest taboo and differences between the sexes. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-19-507707-0
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