Animal, Spiritual and Cerebral

Mary Midgley

  • Animal Thought by Stephen Walker
    Routledge, 388 pp, £17.50, January 1983, ISBN 0 7100 9037 4
  • On the Evolution of Human Behaviour by Peter Reynolds
    California, 259 pp, £20.00, December 1981, ISBN 0 520 04294 8
  • The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit by Melvin Konner
    Heinemann, 436 pp, £16.50, October 1982, ISBN 0 434 39703 2
  • Sociobiology and the Human Dimension by Georg Breuer
    Cambridge, 264 pp, £22.50, January 1983, ISBN 0 521 24544 3
  • Sociobiology and the Pre-Emption of Social Science by Alexander Rosenberg
    Blackwell, 210 pp, £9.90, March 1981, ISBN 0 631 12625 2

In what ways are people similar to other animals, and in what ways are they different? There are real problems of method about the right approach to this question, but they are nothing to the emotional ones which rise, like a buzzing cloud of insects, as soon as we approach its frontiers. The need to determine answers in advance of investigations is perhaps felt more strongly in this area than in any other outside political history – if indeed it is outside it. Time and again scholars have determined to get this disorderly province of the mind finally under control and to issue a clear map of it. Peter Reynolds, in his admirable book, cites one such map, from an American anthropologist writing in 1901:

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