This is a history of how Western thinkers have argued over the centuries about what it means to be human. The history of that argument, and an interpretation of its significances, rather than the description of any particular body of knowledge is central to this text. The narrative is broadly chronological, though organized around key themes in the history of scientific ideas.
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As living creatures, human beings are an integral part of nature, yet we are also keenly aware of how language and culture separate us from it. The 'Fontana History of the Human Sciences' maps attempts in the West, faced by this recognition of our unique place in the world, to make rational sense of our lives and to comprehend what, scientifically, it means to be human.
Roger Smith's book charts the origins, growth and consolidation of sociology, linguistics, economics, anthropology and especially psychology – those areas of study that today have come to be known as the humans sciences – and assesses their changing contributions to our understanding of human behaviour from the Renaissance to the present day. The book explores the influence of the architects of modern Western ideas about human nature: thinkers as diverse as Locke, Descartes, Montesquieu, Marx, Darwin and Freud. It also examines the emergence of questions central to understanding the West's reaction to the onset of modernity: the effects of colonialism on Western thought; the construction of the nation-state; the interaction of the new sciences of the person and jurisprudence; the historical origins of ideas about sex and gender; the emergence of an introspective language about the self; and humanity's response to new technologies. 'The Fontana History of the Human Sciences' deftly bridges the Sciences and the Humanities to provide a unique and superbly lucid account of the history of attempts to use natural science to understand human nature.
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Book Description Fontana Press, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006861784