"What Is Man?", published by Mark Twain in 1906, is a dialogue between a Young Man and an Old Man regarding the nature of man. The title refers to Psalm 8:4, which begins "what is man, that you are mindful of him...". It involves ideas of determinism and free will, as well as of psychological egoism. The Old Man asserts that the human being is merely a machine, and nothing more, driven by the singular purpose to satisfy his own desires and achieve peace of mind. The Young Man objects, and asks him to go into particulars and furnish his reasons for his position. The work appears to be a genuine and earnest debate of his opinions about human nature, rather than satirical. Twain held views similar to that of the Old Man prior to writing "What is Man?". However, he seems to have varied in his opinions of human freedom.
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**Performed by 2001 Grammy nominated Carl Reiner, for Best Performance in spoken word audio, for Mark Twain's Letters from Earth.**From the Back Cover:
Mark Twain's skeptical assessment of free will, and determinism, religious belief, and the nature of humanity. He put off publishing it for 25 years, and then released it anonymously in a limited edition of 250 copies. The book takes the form of a Socratic dialogue between a romantic young idealist and an elderly cynic, who debate such issues as whether personal merit is meaningless given how our environment shapes who we are, and whether man has any impulse other than pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain.
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