The Importance of Evolution to Understandings of Human Nature


This interdisciplinary book focuses on Charles Darwin’s extensively detailed observations of all forms of animate life across the global world—humans included. These existential realities of Nature are not commonly recognized in today’s world, yet they are all of sizable import in impacting both flora and fauna, thus in human understandings of the nature of the world and the nature of all forms of animate life. Darwin’s descriptively anchored observations furthermore tie in directly with Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological analyses of experience. However different their inquiries and wonder at the world and at human experience, their analyses show how descriptive foundations and a concern with origins are integral to both, and how methodology and a living dynamics are central to a recognition of the complementarity of biological-neurological sciences and phenomenology.

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Maxine Sheets-Johnstone is an interdisciplinary scholar (BA: French/Comparative Literature, University of California; MA: Dance; PhD: Philosophy/Dance; 2nd PhD: incomplete [ABD] Evolutionary Biology, University of Wisconsin). She has over ninety articles in humanities, science, and art journals, as well as ten published books. She has given keynote addresses and guest lectures in Europe and in North and South America, and was awarded a Distinguished Fellowship for her research on xenophobia in the inaugural year of the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University, UK, the theme of which was 'The Legacy of Charles Darwin'.
"We need Darwin now more than ever. This book shows that understanding evolution has existential import for humans now, and in a way that wasn’t even true in Darwin’s time. It’s full of surprises; you’ll find the sections on the alpha male archetype in 21st century politics funny, on target, and absolutely terrifying."
- Robert P. Crease, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Stony Brook University, Columnist, Physics World, Winner, 2021 William Thomson, Lord Kelvin Medal and Prize, for "describing key humanities concepts for scientists, and explaining the significance of key scientific ideas for humanists."

“Combining her profound knowledge and superb scholarship within and across the fields of philosophy and science, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone shows how awareness of our connection to others and the natural world around us–and how we understand these relations--will define how we negotiate the 21st century. By this she means how we educate our children, what it will take to instill and restore wonder and curiosity in the face of an increasingly mechanical world view. Hers is the voice of a wisdom grounded in our evolutionary origins, where the truths of experience constitute a proper aim of science and the usual duality of subject and object disappears. For those who inquire how we become 'mindful bodies' and all that that entails, this book is for you. Delightfully written and down to earth, it provides us a wise, yet practical way to grasp our true nature."
- J. A. Scott Kelso, Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, Florida Atlantic University; Intelligent Systems Research Centre, Ulster University, Derry ~ Londonderry, N. Ireland; Pierre de Fermat Laureate 2008.



1Evolutionary Realities of Animate Life
i  Darwin

ii  Insects

iii  Biodiversity

iv  Male-Male Competition

v  21st-Century Archetypal Exemplifications of Male-Male Competition

vi  A Return to Darwin and His Principles of Natural Selection

vii  The Pan-Animate Nature of Emotions

viii  Vindications and Elaborations of Darwin’s Foundational Insights into Emotions

ix  Chapter 1 Summation

2Phenomenological Realities of Animate Life
i  Naturalizing Phenomenology and a Proposed Neurophenomenology

ii  Darwin’s Evolutionary Biology and Enaction

iii  Pregiven and Pregivennesses: Sorting Basic Facts of Human Life from Biased Claims

iv  The Foundational Import of Pregivennesses

v  The Confluence of a Darwinian Perspective on Animate Life and Husserl’s Phenomenological Methodology

vi  Human Experience: the Nature and Challenges of Phenomenological Analyses

vii  Research Perspectives Complementary to Husserlian Phenomenology

viii  The Neurodynamics of Embodied Minds and Naturalizing Phenomenology vs Real-Life Subject-World Relationships

3Joint Concerns and Complementarities Linking Darwinian Evolutionary Biology and Husserlian Phenomenology
i  On the Road to Recovery: Beginning Correlations

ii  The Centrality of Methodology and of Dynamics in Understandings of Human Nature

4The Centrality and Critical Importance of Wonder and of an Ongoing Spiral of Inquiry in Understandings of Human Nature
i  Self-imposed Ideational Limitations in the Pursuit of Human Knowledge and the Open-Ended “Wonderful” Nature of Darwin’s Thinking and Writings

ii  The Complex Experiential Nature of Wonder: Its Value, Challenges, and Importance to the Nature of Human Knowledge

iii  Obstacle #1: the Ongoing Decade of the Brain

iv  Obstacle #2: the Age of Information

v  Concluding Thoughts


Subject Index

Postdoctoral Students, post-doc students, professors, seniors, in academic areas ranging from evolutionary biology to philosophy, to cognitive science, to psychology and psychiatry.
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