In this controversial book O'Hear takes a stand against the fashion for explaining human behavior in terms of evolution. He contends that while the theory of evolution is successful in explaining the development of the natural world in general, it is of limited value when applied to the human world. Because of our reflectiveness and our rationality we take on goals and ideals which cannot be justified in terms of survival-promotion or reproductive advantage. O'Hear examines the nature of human self-consciousness, and argues that evolutionary theory cannot give a satisfactory account of such distinctive facets of human life as the quest for knowledge, moral sense, and the appreciation of beauty; in these we transcend our biological origins. It is our rationality that allows each of us to go beyond not only our biological but also our cultural inheritance: as the author says in the Preface, "we are prisoners neither of our genes nor of the ideas we encounter as we each make our personal and individual way through life."
`a valuable addition to literature on evolutionary philosophy.'
Nicholas Agar, Mind, Vol.110, No.438, April 2001
`O'Hear has used formidable learning to bring together a mass of comment bearing on his initial question.'
Professor S. A. Barnett, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
`O'Hear's wide-ranging discussion clearly characterizes current struggles within the discipline of philosophy and provides, if not a compromise, a resolution to the most central debates. Highly recommended.'
H. Storl, Choice
`In that wonderful British tradition of clear, thoughtful and considered philosophy.'
Alan Padgett, Books and Culture
`challenging new book ... The line of argument pursued by O'Hear should be apparent, and it is applied with equal deftness to morality and aesthetics ... a profound, subtle and brilliantly argued book.'
David S. Oderberg, Spectator
1: Mind and Nature
2: Immanent and Transcendent Dimensions of Reason
3: Self-Conscious Belief
4: Evolutionary Epistemology
5: Evolution and Epistemological Pessimism
6: Morality and Politics
7: Beauty and the Theory of Evolution