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Books for review

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  • Ian Pitchford
    The Human Nature Review (http://human-nature.com/) aims to promote interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration in fields relevant to the understanding of
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 29, 2005
      The 'Human Nature Review' (http://human-nature.com/) aims to promote
      interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration in fields relevant to the
      understanding of human nature.

      We are looking for suitably qualified individuals interested in reviewing
      one or more of the titles below. Please reply to this note enclosing your
      name, postal address, brief details of your experience and qualifications,
      and a list of titles in order of preference.

      We are pleased to consider requests for review copies of titles not listed.
      Reviews should be completed promptly and submitted in RTF (rich
      text format) to ian.pitchford@....

      Why the Mind is Not a Computer: A Pocket Lexicon of Neuromythology
      Raymond Tallis
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: The equation "Mind = Machine" is false. This pocket
      lexicon of "neuromythology" shows why. Taking a series of key words such as
      calculation, language, information and memory, Professor Tallis shows how
      their misuse has a lured a whole generation into accepting the computational
      model of the mind. First of all these words were used literally in the
      description of the human mind. Then computer scientists applied them
      metaphorically to the workings of their machines. And finally, their
      metaphorical status forgotten, the use of the terms was called as evidence
      of artificial intelligence in machines and the computational nature of
      conscious thought.

      Science, Consciousness and Ultimate Reality
      Edited by David Lorimer
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: This interdisciplinary volume arises out of a series of
      university events arranged by the Scientific and Medical Network between
      November 2001 and July 2003. The Science, Consciousness and Ultimate Reality
      project was set up with the support of the John Templeton Foundation in
      order to examine critical issues at the interface between science, religion
      and the relatively new field of 'consciousness studies'. The results give a
      variety of fascinating perspectives on this emerging area. David Lorimer has
      brought together an impressive list of contributors representing the diverse
      fields of physics, neuroscience, psychology, theology and moral philosophy:
      Denis Alexander, Bernard Carr, Chris Clarke, Guy Claxton, Peter Fenwick,
      David Fontana, John Habgood, Mary Midgley, Ravi Ravindra, Alan Torrance and
      Keith Ward (see table of contents).

      The Paradoxical Primate
      Colin Talbot
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION:Human beings have an evolved but highly adaptable nature. This
      book sets out to establish a new framework for understanding human nature,
      from an evolutionary perspective but drawing on existing social sciences. It
      seeks to explain how human beings can appear to be so malleable in their
      nature, yet have an inherited set of behavioural instincts. When the founder
      of sociobiolgy, E. O. Wilson, made a plea for greater integration of the
      physical and human sciences in his book Consilience, there was an underlying
      assumption that the traffic would be mainly one way -- from physical to
      human science. This book reverses this assumption and draws on a new branch
      of human sciences, paradoxical systems theory, to reconceptualise some of
      the most innovative developments from physical sciences -- the related
      fields of evolutionary psychology, ethology, and behavioural genetics. The
      new approach is also applied to politics, economic and public policy
      approaches. Dr Colin Talbot is Professor of Public Policy at the University
      of Nottingham where he is Director of the Nottingham Policy Centre. He has
      worked as an advisor to UK and others governments and published over 50
      articles and book chapters and has two other books appearing shortly.

      Our Last Great Illusion: A Radical Psychoanalytical Critique of Therapy
      Rob Weatherill
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: "Therapy may be mad," declares the author of this outspoken
      volume. Therapy here means, particularly, psychotherapy and counselling, but
      can be taken to signify the whole therapeutic culture of well-being. More
      and more people believe in therapy who have lost belief in everything else,
      but their faith is misplaced: "For a long time now it has been punching
      above its weight." Counselling and therapy yearn to bring about integration
      within and between people. The dominant ethos is a holistic one. This book
      aims to refute, primarily through the prism of modern psychoanalysis and
      postmodern theory, the notion of a return to nature, to holism, or to a
      pre-Cartesian ideal of harmony and integration. Far from helping people,
      therapy culture's utopian solutions may be a cynical distraction, creating
      delusions of hope. Yet solutions proliferate in the free market, to the
      precise degree that there are *no* solutions. This is why therapy is our
      last great illusion. Rob Weatherill has been in private practice as a
      psychoanalytic psychotherapist in Dublin for 25 years, and he lectures in
      psychoanalysis at St. Vincent's University College Hospital, Trinity College
      and the Milltown Institute of Philosophy and Theology. He is the author of
      over thirty papers and articles on psychoanalysis and has published four

      Hidden Resources
      edited by Dan Zahavi
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Dan Zahavi, the editor of this collection, heads the Center for
      Subjectivity Research, at the University of Copenhagen. The essays reflect
      the interests of the Center and seek to address the following issue: To what
      extent can the current discussion of consciousness in mainstream cognitive
      science and analytical philosophy of mind profit from insights drawn from
      the investigations of subjectivity found in the Kantian and post-Kantian
      tradition (Kant, Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard) as well as in the
      phenomenological and hermeneutical tradition. The contributions include some
      that are philosophical, while others relate to issues in empirical science,
      such as psychopathology, cognitive neuroscience, and developmental
      psychology. Contributors include Andrew Brook, John Drummond, Shaun
      Gallagher, Arne Groen, Josef Parnas, Peter Poellner, Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl,
      Louis Sass, Dieter Teichert and Dan Zahavi.

      Trusting the Subject? Volume 2
      Edited by Anthony Jack and Andreas Roepstorff
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: The Use of Introspective Evidence in Cognitive Science

      Origins of the Social Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and Child Development
      B J Ellis and D F Bjorklund
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Until now, evolutionary psychologists have focused
      largely on understanding adult behavior, giving little sustained attention
      to childhood. Developmental psychologists, for their part, have been
      wary of the perceived genetic determinism of evolutionary thinking.
      This important volume brings together an array of prominent
      developmental scientists whose work is explicitly driven by
      evolutionary concerns. Presenting sophisticated new
      models for understanding gene-environment interactions, the authors
      demonstrate how evolutionary knowledge can enhance our understanding of key
      aspects of cognitive, social, and personality development. Tightly edited
      chapters examine how different developmental mechanisms have evolved and
      what role they play in children's functioning and their adaptation to adult
      life. Essential topics covered include parent-child relationships,
      aggression, puberty, infant perception and cognition, memory, language, and

      Natural Symbols
      Mary Douglas
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: First published in 1973 by Pelican Books, Natural Symbols has
      been revised and given a new and thoroughly updated introduction. As a
      classic, it represents a work of anthropology in its widest sense, exploring
      themes such as the social meaning of natural symbols and the image of the
      body in society. This work focuses on the ways in which cultures select
      natural symbols from the body, and how every natural symbol carries a social
      meaning. Bringing anthropology into the realm of religion, Natural Symbols
      enters into the ongoing debate in religious circles surrounding meaning and
      ritual. The book not only provides a clear explanation of four distinct
      attitudes to religion, but defends hierarchical forms of religious
      organization, and attempts to retain a balanced judgment between
      fundamentalism and established religion.

      Niche Bandits: Why Big Brains Consumed an Ecosystem
      Marc Pratarelli
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Niche Bandits is a revealing look at the complex relationship
      between human nature and the efforts to conquer its deepest and darkest
      secrets of survival. Pratarelli suggests our Pleistocene-age brain is not
      well suited to coping with its own prolific activity. Without new changes to
      it, it will continue to menace the Earth.

      Strange Histories
      Darren Oldridge
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Despite the spooky title and cover art, this is not a
      collection of Gothic ghost stories or fireside tales. These accounts of
      pre-modern beliefs (spanning the late Middle Ages to the late 17th century)
      employ serious scholarship. Oldridge contends that examining the so-called
      "strange" beliefs of the past can help us achieve a richer understanding of
      history. "If we can begin to understand why a French judge warned people
      about demonically possessed apples in 1602," he writes, "we might start to
      unravel the intellectual context in which he lived." But more importantly,
      Oldridge hopes that grasping the context of these beliefs will encourage
      readers to take a critical look at their own preconceived ideas.

      Hume Variations
      Jerry A Fodor
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Hume? Yes, David Hume, that's who Jerry Fodor looks to for help
      in advancing our understanding of the mind. Fodor claims his Treatise of
      Human Nature as the foundational document of cognitive science: it launched
      the project of constructing an empirical psychology on the basis of a
      representational theory of mind. Going back to this work after more than 250
      years we find that Hume is remarkably perceptive about the components and
      structure that a theory of mind requires. Careful study of the Treatise
      helps us to see what is amiss with much twentieth-century philosophy of
      mind, and to get on the right track.

      Kindness in a Cruel World: The Evolution of Altruism
      Nigel Barber
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: In a wide-ranging tour of human behavior, Barber (The Science
      of Romance) attempts to explain why, in a Darwinian world, altruism is alive
      and well. Indeed, he takes an unreservedly optimistic tone. He argues that a
      spirit of cooperation is in fact a result of our evolutionary history. But
      Barber sees altruism in virtually every behavior and form of social
      cooperation and thus does little to advance our knowledge of the subject.
      His broad definition of altruism (quite distinct from that of most
      evolutionary biologists, who declare that an altruistic act must have a cost
      greater than the benefit) permits him to lump together the feeding of young
      by their parents and a soldier falling on an active grenade to save his
      fellow soldiers as examples of the same phenomenon.

      Mind and Supermind
      Keith Frankish
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Portraying the mind as a two-level structure, this book
      analyzes the architecture of the human mind. Thus, it demonstrates that the
      mind consists of a basic mind and a supermind--the former non-conscious and
      non-linguistic, the latter conscious and language-involving. Claiming that
      philosophers and psychologists have failed to distinguish these levels,
      Keith Frankish argues that this failure has stood in the way of the
      successful explanation of a number of puzzling mental phenomena. His book
      will be valued by philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists.

      Ungendering Civilisation
      Edited by K. Anne Pyburn
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Ungendering Civilization examines early state societies for
      evidence of the long-assumed male dominance/ female subordination that has
      characterized archaeological study, research and scholarship since our
      ancestors first started speculating about the lives and societies of
      prehistoric man. The authors have each taken a distinct body of
      archaeological data, including Predynastic Egypt, Minoa and Maya, in order
      to determine what the available data may or may not really show about past
      societies. The fascinating result of this research leads the authors to
      believe that the cross-cultural parallels found in the status and treatment
      of women are more the result of history than of human nature or human

      Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind
      David Livingstone Smith
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Deceit, lying, and falsehoods lie at the very heart of our
      cultural heritage. Even the founding myth of the Judeo-Christian tradition,
      the story of Adam and Eve, revolves around a lie. We have been talking,
      writing and singing about deception ever since Eve told God, "The serpent
      deceived me, and I ate." Our seemingly insatiable appetite for stories of
      deception spans the extremes of culture from King Lear to Little Red Riding
      Hood, retaining a grip on our imaginations despite endless repetition. These
      tales of deception are so enthralling because they speak to something
      fundamental in the human condition. The ever-present possibility of deceit
      is a crucial dimension of all human relationships, even the most central:
      our relationships with our very own selves. Now, for the first time,
      philosopher and evolutionary psychologist David Livingstone Smith elucidates
      the essential role that deception and self-deception have played in
      human--and animal--evolution and shows that the very structure of our minds
      has been shaped from our earliest beginnings by the need to deceive. Smith
      shows us that by examining the stories we tell, the falsehoods we weave, and
      the unconscious signals we send out, we can learn much about ourselves and
      how our minds work. Readers of Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker will find
      much to intrigue them in this fascinating book, which declares that our
      extraordinary ability to deceive others--and even our own selves--"lies" at
      the heart of our humanity.

      A Reason for Everything: Natural Selection and the English Imagination
      Marek Kohn
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: A Reason for Everything is about Britain and natural history,
      butterflies and snails, impassioned beliefs, and ideological struggles. The
      book begins with Alfred Russel Wallace, who discovered the idea of natural
      selection for himself in 1858, while his own life hung in a precarious,
      malarial balance - and closes with a portrait of Richard Dawkins, Britain's
      most prominent living advocate of natural selection. Charting the lives of
      some of the major thinkers in the years between, including Ronald Aylmer
      Fisher, J. B. S. Haldane, John Maynard Smith and Bill Hamilton, A Reason for
      Everything is an elegant and sophisticated account of Darwinism's
      progression from the nineteenth-century to the present.

      Magic, Miracles, and Religion: A Scientist's Perspective
      Ilkka Pyysiainen
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Drawing on his background in theology and comparative religion,
      Pyysiainen (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies) outlines the
      theoretical foundations of a cognitive science of religion, and employs the
      perspective to deconstruct a number of basic concepts in the study of
      religion, among them miracle, magic, and culture. He continues work he began
      in How Religion Works (2001) with 15 essays, some of them previously
      published but completely rewritten to dovetail into the flow of the
      collection. His introduction relates how he abandoned an absent-minded study
      of religion.

      Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family and Gender in Twentieth-Century
      Carole M Counihan
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: In this delicious book, noted food scholar Carole M. Counihan
      presents a compelling and artfully told narrative about family and food in
      late 20th-century Florence. Based on solid research, Counihan examines how
      family , and especially gender, have changed in Florence since the end of
      World War II to the present giving us a portrait of the changing nature of
      modern life as exemplified through food and foodways.

      Critical Psychiatry: The Politics of Mental Health
      David Ingleby
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: From the Preface to the second impression: The reissue of this
      book, 24 years after its first publication, is a very welcome initiative by
      Free Association Books. When Critical Psychiatry saw the light of day, the
      debate over psychiatry which had raged in the 1960's and 1970's was well
      past its peak: sales of the book were modest and the publishers soon allowed
      it to fall out of print, although well-thumbed copies continued to circulate
      in limited circles. All of us who worked on the book are therefore delighted
      to see this old war-horse once more being led from the stables. We hope, of
      course, that the book will not simply be bought as a collector's item.
      Inevitably, after a quarter of a century many details have become out of
      date. However, the book's basic message seems even more relevant now than it
      did in 1980. Mental health services have gone on changing, and new research
      has continued to be generated - but the importance of the book's central
      topic has, if anything, become greater. What is this topic? In a nutshell,
      it is the discrepancy between the size of the problem of 'mental illness'
      and the inadequacy of responses to it. As far as the size of the problem is
      concerned, the figures cited in the original introduction to Critical
      Psychiatry have become even more alarming. In Holland, for example - a
      prosperous country rated highly by its inhabitants on 'quality of life'- one
      in four of all adults now experience a diagnosable mental health problem in
      the course of a year. Such figures are typical for Western countries.
      Worldwide, the WHO has estimated that depression will become the second most
      important cause of disability by 2020 - and in the developed world, the
      major cause.

      Encounters with Violence in Latin America
      Caroline Moser and Cathy McIlwaine
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Considers the various types of political, social, and economic
      violence that afflict communities and measures the costs and consequences of
      violence giving a voice to those whose daily lives are dominated by
      widespread aggression.

      The Real Drug Abusers
      Fred Leavitt
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Junkies robbing houses, prostitutes on the corner, pushers at
      school get headline attention, says Leavitt (psychology, California State
      U.- Hayward) because news media want to sell a story and politicians want
      votes, but several less publicized activities involving drugs does great
      harm to the public. Among those he describes are conflicting financial
      interests of pharmacological researchers, and the blind obedience of doctors
      to drug advertising.

      I Am Dynamite: An Alternative Anthropology of Power
      Nigel Rapport
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Nigel Rapport holds the Chair in Anthropological and
      Philosophical Studies in the Department of Social Anthropology at the
      University of St. Andrews. I Am Dynamite presents an alternative theory of
      the self and will and examines the subjective experience of existing in the

      The Nature of the Mind: An Introduction
      Peter Carruthers
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Peter Carruthers is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the
      University of Maryland. His recent books include Phenomenal Consciousness
      (2000), The Philosophy of Psychology (1999) and Language, Thought and
      Consciousness (1996). Main topics covered in this volume include: the
      problem of other minds; the dualist/physicalist debate; the nature of
      personal identity and survival; and mental-state concepts.

      Soldiers of God: Primal Emotions and Religious Terrorists
      Jay Glass
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: The history of killing in the name of God focusing on the 9/11
      bombings of World Trade Towers. These events are explained by showing their
      origins in the most primal of our emotional needs. Based upon this analysis
      suggestions made for steps to be taken to stop these murderous acts from

      We're Friends Right? Inside Kids' Culture
      William Corsaro
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: Sociologists often study exotic cultures by immersing themselve
      s in an environment until they become accepted as insiders. In this
      fascinating account by acclaimed researcher William A. Corsaro, a scientist
      "goes native" to study the secret world of children. Here, for the first
      time, are the children themselves, heard through an expert who knows that
      the only way to truly understand them is by becoming a member of their
      community. That's just what Corsaro did when he traded in his adult
      perspective for a seat in the sandbox alongside groups of preschoolers.
      Corsaro's journey of discovery is as fascinating as it is revealing. Living
      among and gaining the acceptance of children, he gradually comes to
      understand that a child's world is far more complex than anyone ever
      suspected. Here he documents a special culture, unique unto itself, in which
      children create their own social structures and exert their own influences.
      At a time when many parents fear that they don't spend enough time with
      their children, and experts debate the best path to healthy development,
      seeing childhood through the eyes of a child offers parents and caregivers
      fresh and compelling insights. Corsaro calls upon all adults to appreciate,
      embrace, and savor their children's culture. He asks us to take a cue from
      those we hold so precious and understand that "we're all friends, right?"

      Go Finding Your Own Frontier
      Judith Kleinfeld
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: "The very word 'frontier' is a uniquely American concept. In
      every other Indo-European language, the word 'frontier' means a boundary or
      a limit. In America, the word 'frontier' came to mean the very opposite-a
      boundless realm of exciting possibilities. The drive to the frontier is a
      part of the American character, of what it means to be an American." -from
      the Preface Go For It! reveals the "frontier strategy"-habits of the mind
      that contribute to our strength and success, both as individuals and as a
      nation. Go For It! Shows how to find your own frontier. It could be a
      geographic place, in a hometown or a new town. But a frontier is a state of
      mind found at work or at home. It could be homebodies at their computers
      "homesteading the electronic frontier." We see science as the " endless
      frontier" and call retirement the "next frontier." Ultimately, the frontier
      is a choice, not just a place. It could be anywhere that unique qualities
      enable someone to make a contribution not made before. Author Judith
      Kleinfled, Ed.D. professor of psychology at the University of Alaska,
      liberally laces her book with inspiring stories of those who found their
      frontier, explaining why they develop greater personal confidence, more
      independence and a stronger sense of self. On frontiers, people . enjoy
      easier entry, less competition, and better odds of success; . stretch
      themselves and expand their skills; . take on tough tasks and become more
      resourceful and inventive; . get out of their ruts and escape the
      expectations of others; and . experience new places and people who inspire
      them, causing their creativity to soar. We Americans rejoice when
      individuals overcome obstacles and succeed against formidable odds. That is
      the frontier spirit. This self-help book, the quintessential American genre,
      serves as a guide to finding authentic happiness while leading satisfying
      and successful lives.--

      Nature Exposed to Our Method of Questioning
      Amy Ione
      AMAZON - US
      DESCRIPTION: Nature Exposed to our Method of Questioning explores how we
      create our cultural assumptions about nature, culture and ourselves. The
      following four questions frame the study: (1) How do premodern, modern, and
      postmodern perspectives in art, religion, philosophy, and science differ and
      interpenetrate? (2) What does it mean to integrate questions and beliefs as
      we create our living environments? (3) What are symbols and metaphors and
      how do they contribute to the human dialogue? (4) How do purpose, intention,
      and consciousness foster creativity and influence our perceptions of human
      living? Three conclusions emerged in exploring these questions: (1) The
      philosophies provided by earlier eras are not comprehensive enough to speak
      about the nature of our contemporary environment. (2) Contextual examples
      underscore that explanatory models of reality are creative human inventions.
      (3) We benefit in defining open models rather than frameworks that attempt
      to be universal in an all-inclusive fashion.

      Evolution and the Psychology of Thinking: The Debate
      Edited by David Over
      AMAZON - US
      AMAZON - UK
      DESCRIPTION: The field of evolutionary cognitive psychology has stimulated
      considerable interest and debate among cognitive psychologists and those
      working in related areas. In this collection, leading experts evaluate the
      status of this controversial field, providing a critical analysis of its
      main hypotheses These hypotheses have far reaching implications for
      cognition. At the general level, current evolutionary cognitive psychology
      states a highly modular view of the mind, and so rejects, controversially,
      any general logical or learning ability. However, it also provides a
      detailed, content-dependent account of conditional reasoning and
      probablility judgements, which in turn has significant, and equally
      controversial, implications about the nature of human reasoning and
      The contributions range from those that are highly critical of the
      hypotheses to those that support and develop them. The result is a uniquely
      balanced, cutting-edge evaluation of the field that will be of interest to
      psychologists, philosophers and those in related subjects who wish to find
      out what evolutionary considerations can tell us about the human mind.

      Ian Pitchford PhD CBiol MIBiol
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