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On Human Nature

by Jonathan H Turner

Part of the Evolutionary Analysis in the Social Sciences Series

On Human Nature Synopsis

In this book, Jonathan H. Turner combines sociology, evolutionary biology, cladistic analysis from biology, and comparative neuroanatomy to examine human nature as it was inherited from common ancestors shared by humans and present-day great apes. Selection pressures altered this inherited legacy for the ancestors of humans-termed hominins for being bipedal-and forced greater organization than extant great apes when the hominins moved into open country terrestrial habitats. The effects of these selection pressures increased hominin ancestors' emotional capacities through greater social and group orientation. This shift, in turn, enabled further selection for a larger brain, articulated speech, and culture along the human line. Turner elaborates human nature as a series of overlapping complexes that are the outcome of the inherited legacy of great apes being fed through the transforming effects of a larger brain, speech, and culture. These complexes, he shows, can be understood as the cognitive complex, the psychological complex, the emotions complex, the interaction complex, and the community complex.

On Human Nature Press Reviews

This is the best book yet written on social evolution. Jonathan Turner synthesizes his life-work, from cladistics of human great ape ancestors, reconstructing the biological steps that made humans much more emotionally responsive, simultaneously allowing greater brain size and more flexible social arrangements with strangers. Blending symbolic interaction and interaction ritual, early humans developed internalized symbols, self-control, and group references. These let humans build larger, more complex, stratified, and impersonal organization-turning against original individualistic, freedom-loving human nature and submitting it to the social cage. Turner traces the conflict of biological human nature and social organization into postmodern societies and peeks at our future. --Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania Jonathan Turner is one of few social theorists who cross disciplinary boundaries in a serious way, engaging Biology, Anthropology, Evolution, Genetics, Brain Science, Psychology, and Sociology. Rejecting the tautological logic of the just-so stories, so often associated with evolutionary work, Turner reveals the labyrinth-like complexity of human nature. Turner is a sure-footed guide through these labyrinths, rendering his insights useful for thinking about a wide variety of social phenomena. Ultimately, Turner's, Human Nature, is a cutting-edge work that should matter to all social scientists. --Erika Effler-Summers, University of Notre Dame This remarkable book is both unusually comprehensive and at the same time highly readable. After a slow start, sociology is now being integrated with the findings of evolutionary biology, with Jonathan Turner in the lead. This treatment of human nature and its evolution is powerfully eclectic, using theories and data ranging from primate ethology to theories of emotion to brain science, and includes some pleasant surprises in the form of American Pragmatism and the work of Mead and Cooley. A provocative synthesis. -Christopher Boehm, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California Jonathan Turner can be counted among the few in American sociology who ask huge questions, master sprawling literatures, and defy the imperialism of strong social constructivism. He takes nature seriously and wants to know what nature means for humanity. This book continues and extends Turner's decades-long project of systematically understanding and explaining foundational concerns about humanity-that is, us, we ourselves. Not everyone will agree with his story, but I commend it as important and fascinating nonetheless. At a time when the authority of science itself is increasingly publicly questioned, Turner admirably models a long-view scholar taking seriously genuinely interdisciplinary science. --Christian Smith, Wm. R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology, University of Notre Dame

Book Information

ISBN: 9780367556471
Publication date: 25th November 2020
Author: Jonathan H Turner
Publisher: Routledge an imprint of Taylor & Francis Ltd
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 290 pages
Categories: Social theory, Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography, Neurosciences,

About Jonathan H Turner

Jonathan H. Turner is 38th University Professor of the University of California System; Research Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara; and Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Riverside. He is also Director of the Institute for Theoretical Social Science, Santa Barbara, California. He is the author of hundreds of research articles and the author of more than 40 distinguished books, including most recently The New Evolutionary Sociology (with Richard Machalek).

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