Man, Beast, and Zombie: What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us about Human Nature

ISBN 10: 0813531225 / ISBN 13: 9780813531229
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Synopsis: A fascinating examination of what science can and cannot explain about human nature.

Are humans unique? Can animals think as we do? Will machines ever have consciousness? What is free will? For centuries, attempts to answer these questions have been the stuff of both bar-room debates and intense theological and philosophical dispute. Now scientists claim they can solve these riddles of human existence once and for all. In so doing, they promise to upset many of the accepted ideas about morality and human nature.

Man, Beast, and Zombie is an original and accessible book. Vast in its scope, it draws on cutting-edge sciences such as evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence to assess what, precisely, science can and cannot explain about human nature. Kenan Malik explains the histories of these sciences (and the philosophies that underpin them) and analyzes the complex relationship between human beings, animals, and machines to explore what really makes us human.

Malik demonstrates that much current thinking about human nature is flawed: how there is more than one way to design a mind; why the lifestyles of contemporary hunter-gatherers do not illuminate the lives of our prehistoric ancestors; and what intelligent machines really reveal about human consciousness. He shows, too, how the scientific debate about human nature is as influenced by politics as by science.

Man, Beast, and Zombie is both a defense of scientific reason and a challenge to some of todays most cherished scientific theories. It deftly interweaves philosophy, science, and history to answer the most fundamental question of all: what is a human being?

From the Back Cover: Are humans unique? Can animals think as we do? Will machines ever have consciousness? What is free will? For centuries, attempts to answer these questions have been the stuff of both bar-room debates and intense theological and philosophical dispute. Now scientists claim they can solve these riddles of human existence once and for all. In so doing, they promise to upset many of the accepted ideas about morality and human nature.

Man, Beast, and Zombie is an original and accessible book. Vast in its scope, it draws on cutting-edge sciences such as evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence to assess what, precisely, science can and cannot explain about human nature. Kenan Malik explains the histories of these sciences (and the philosophies that underpin them) and analyzes the complex relationship between human beings, animals, and machines to explore what really makes us human.

Malik demonstrates that much current thinking about human nature is flawed: how there is more than one way to design a mind; why the lifestyles of contemporary hunter-gatherers do not illuminate the lives of our prehistoric ancestors; and what intelligent machines really reveal about human consciousness. He shows, too, how the scientific debate about human nature is as influenced by politics as by science.

Man, Beast, and Zombie is both a defense of scientific reason and a challenge to some of today's most cherished scientific theories. It deftly interweaves philosophy, science, and history to answer the most fundamental question of all: what is a human being?

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Title: Man, Beast, and Zombie: What Science Can and...
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