Runciman, W. G. The Social Animal

ISBN 13: 9780002558624

The Social Animal

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9780002558624: The Social Animal

The Social Animal is a classic investigation of human beings as social animals.

The Social Animal is a short, wide-ranging, witty and accessible book that sets out the present extent of our knowledge about how human societies and institutions really work, and what motivates the people who live within them.

W. G. Runciman’s superb book is a welcome corrective to the view that there are no societies, only collections of individuals and their families: he shows that wherever they may live in the world, human beings are quintessentially social animals.

Using the latest insights from the fields of biology, anthropology, psychology, economic history and sociology, Runciman proposes a new social science, based not upon outmoded marxist ideas, but on the insights of Charles Darwin.

The Social Animal is a book that can be read for pleasure as well as profit by anyone who has pondered what the social sciences are really about; how far they can assist policy makers create a better world; and what experiences are common to all human beings, regardless of where they might live.

It is, in short, an instant classic.

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Review:

Praise for A Treatise on Social Theory (CUP: 1983, 1989, forthcoming):

‘One of the most exotic – even flamboyant – intellectual projects of recent years… the two questions [Runciman] seeks to explain are nothing less than these: what kinds of society are possible at any given stage of human development, and why any given society became the way it did, in the course of it… The result is a dazzling display of erudition. Runciman’s command of the comparative historical record has few, if any, rivals. Old Babylonia, tribal Africa, archaic Greece, Pre-Columbian America, Stone Age Melanesia, Classical Rome, Dark Age Lombardy, Medieval Japan, Imperial China, feudal Poland, republican Venice, caliphal Islam, absolutist France, industrial Britain, revolutionary Mexico, Stalinist Russia, populist Argentina, social-democratic Sweden, racist South Africa – all these and many more parade across what astonishingly remains a compact, middle-sized book, each deftly and economically captured… Deeply impressive.’
Perry Anderson, London Review of Books

From the Back Cover:

It is more than two thousand years since Aristotle declared that a human being capable of living outside a society is either a wild beast or a god. This idea is as true today as it was when it was first spoken: wherever they live in the world, humans are essentially social animals. W.G.Runciman's masterly book sets out the present extent of our knowledge about how human groups, communities, institutions and societies work, and the forces that act upon the people who live within them.

Though his book is admirably brief and always succinct, Runciman surveys an extraordinarily wide range of intellectual disciplines for his distillation of his subject – recent advances in biology, anthropology, psychology and economic history are all called upon.

'The Social Animal' is a landmark book that can be read for pleasure as well as profit by anyone who has reflected on the nature of societies and what experiences are common to all human beings, regardless of where they might live.

'One of the most exotic – even flamboyant – intellectual projects of recent years…The two questions Runciman seeks to explain are nothing less than these: what kinds of society are possible at any given stage of human development, and why any given society became the way it did, in the course of it…The result is a dazzling display of erudition. Runciman's command of the comparative historical record has few, if any, rivals. Old Babylonia, tribal Africa, archaic Greece, Pre-Columbian America, Stone Age Melanesia, Classical Rome, Dark Age Lombardy, Medieval Japan, Imperial China, feudal Poland, republican Venice, caliphal Islam, absolutist France, industrial Britain, revolutionary Mexico, Stalinist Russia, populist Argentina, social-democratic Sweden, racist South Africa – all these and many more parade across what astonishingly remains a compact, middle-sized book, each deftly and economically captured…Deeply impressive.'
PERRY ANDERSON, 'London Review of Books', on W.G.Runciman's 'A Treatise on Social Theory'.

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Runciman, W. G.
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (1998)
ISBN 10: 0002558629 ISBN 13: 9780002558624
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2558629

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