The Unpredictable Species: What Makes Humans Unique

Philip Lieberman. Princeton Univ., $29.95 (248p) ISBN 978-0-691-14858-8
Lieberman (Eve Spoke: Human Language and Human Evolution) pulls no punches in attacking what he perceives to be the flaws of evolutionary psychology in this imbalanced scientific treatise. He argues somewhat hyperbolically that under “a high-tech veneer... phrenology lives on today in studies that purport to identify the brain’s center of religious belief, pornography, and everything in between,” and he is equally forceful in debunking Chomsky’s notions that language is innate and that a hypothetical “language organ” might exist. His ability to marshal contemporary neuroscience to support his assertions is impressive, and his efforts to guide the field away from biological determinism (a “stew of invented genes”) are well-founded and important. He contends that we should instead focus on “understanding the interplay of culture and biology in shaping human behavior.” Unfortunately, Lieberman loses some credibility when he takes too literally Richard Dawkins’s concept of a “selfish gene”; equally troubling is the straw man Lieberman sets up to discredit Dawkins. Despite these missteps, his conclusion—what sets us apart from other primates is that our genes allow for cognitive flexibility and human creativity—is well worth considering. 12 line illus. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Show other formats
FORMATS
Open Ebook - 273 pages - 978-1-299-46791-0
Open Ebook - 248 pages - 978-1-4008-4670-2
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.