Being Human.

Bridging the Gap between the Sciences of Body and Mind

Gerhard Medicus

(Am Zügel der Evolution Vol. 10)

What makes humans human? How are body and mind connected, and how are the sciences of the body connected with the sciences of the mind?
Evolution has left its marks on the body and the soul. For this reason, the accumulated evolutionary knowledge is a useful and indispensable underpinning for the human sciences, which continue to epitomise the body-mind problem through the separation of the natural sciences and the humanities. Based on this insight, a theory of the human sciences is offered to steer a course towards well-grounded interdisciplinary scientific study and understanding of humans. The proposed interdisciplinary framework is illustrated by examples that span the evolution and expansion of learning, reflective and cultural capacities, aspects of social behaviour, the evolution of moral consciousness, “opposed instincts” such as aggression and the inhibition of aggression, gender differences in behaviour, and attachment behaviour. This knowledge can serve to expand behavioural freedom, including the freedom to act responsibly.

Response to the first English edition:

• "Medicus has shown us both breadth and depth in his far-reaching synthesis of the physical and mental aspects of our humanity. Using classical ethology as a starting point, he then ranges widely in the natural and social sciences, especially Psychology, and beyond, for example, Philosophy. Few scholars are in a position to provide us with such a satisfying compendium on human nature."
William McGrew, University of Cambridge, UK, 2015.

From the reviews of the first German edition:

• "A fascinating book that conveys the animalistic aspects of our own mirror image in a scientifically structured and sound manner and in doing so succinctly carves out traits that, to some extent, set humans apart from animals. It adds important insights into the central question of who and what we humans really are."
Helmut Pechlaner (2012), Schönbrunner Tiergarten Journal 3: 18; Vetmed-Magazin 2: 32

• "Clear examples enable the reader to better understand the links between human ethology, psychology and philosophy"
Barbara Antesberger (2012), Mitteilungen aus dem Haus der Natur 20: 106

• "To extend Darwin’s theory from morphology to the behaviour of humans and to their ‘higher’ faculties and mental capacities required extra steps, extra insight, and extra upset. Yet still the different branches of research continue to work in isolation— convenient as it may be, this is not gratifying."—"What I like about this book is that one can learn something from every page—reason enough to recommend it!"
Gerhard Vollmer (2012), Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau 7: 379.

From the Foreword for the Endlish Edition:

• "To date, there is no comprehensive, unifying theory of psychology. The various subdisciplines, from psychoanalysis to the psychology of management and business, have their own theoretical underpinnings. It seems to me that Gerhard Medicus’ analytical concept lays the groundwork for a building in which all members of the family of psychology could feel at home".
Wulf Schiefenhövel, 2015.

List of Contents:

  • Wulf Schiefenhövel: Foreword
  • Preamble
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction by Konrad Lorenz (1987)

    PART I: Contributions to the epistemology of interdisciplinarity in the human sciences

  • 1. Interdisciplinary theoretical foundation of the natural sciences
    1.1 The central questions
    1.1.1 The question of causation
    1.1.2 The question of ontogeny
    1.1.3 The question of adaptive value
    1.1.4 The question of phylogeny
    1.2 The reference levels
    1.3 Chapter appendix: evolutionary psychology, evolutionary medicine
    2. Contributions of the humanities to the interdisciplinary dialogue in the human sciences
    2.1 The body-mind problem: how it came to the separation of academic faculties
    2.2 Approaches bridging the division between the humanities and the natural sciences
    2.2.1 Popper’s postulate of falsifiability
    2.2.2 The structure of the real world according to Nicolai Hartmann
    2.2.3 Levels of evidence and demands for certainty
    2.2.4 David Hume and Norbert Bischof
    2.3 A plea in favour of orientational knowledge
    2.4 Chapter appendix: forms of knowledge, Semmelweis Effect

    PART II: Behavioural phylogeny in relation to higher-level systematics of vertebrates
    3. On the phylogeny of human cognition
    3.1 Evolutionary stages of human cognition
    3.1.1 Phylogenetic and ontogenetic knowledge gain
    3.1.2 The evolution of cognitive capacities
    3.1.3 Communal coexistence and culture; cultural-theoretical considerations
    3.1.4 Overlap between concepts of psychotherapy and ethology
    3.2 Chapter appendix: further aspects of hominisation
    4. From animal brood care to human social behaviour
    4.1 From brood care to cooperativeness and its limits
    4.2 Grieving, greeting and leave-taking
    4.3 From brood care to sexual behaviour
    4.3.1 Incest avoidance mechanisms
    4.3.2 Gender differences
    5. The apple from the tree of knowledge and the expulsion from paradise: on the evolution of morality
    5.1 Questions about human nature
    5.2 Evolutionary origins of humanity
    5.2.1 Social attractiveness
    5.2.2 Self-exploration and empathy
    5.2.3 Time horizon and emphronesis are prerequisites for the ability to feel shame
    5.2.4 Reflection and moral responsibility in adult humans
    5.2.5 Summary: scope and limitations of cultural freedom
    5.2.6 Concluding remarks
    6. On the ethology of resource appropriation and ownership
    6.1 The resource is appropriated by the strongest
    6.2 The resource is appropriated by the higher-ranking individual and/or the first to arrive
    6.3 Give and take
    6.4 The right to possession is respected even in the absence of the owner
    6.5 Chapter appendix: rank order and hierarchy
    7. The natural difference: on the biopsychology of gender differences
    7.1 General remarks and biological foundations
    7.1.1 Benefits of sexual reproduction
    7.1.2 Basic principles and causes for the origin of sexual dimorphism
    7.2 Sexual reproduction in nonhuman and human primates
    7.2.1 Excursus: communication in primates
    7.2.2 The sociology of primate mating systems
    7.2.3 The "principle of antithesis" in male-female differences
    7.2.4 Human sexual behaviour
    7.3 Variants of sexual behaviour
    7.4 Prospects
    8. Does the psychomotor development of children follow the biogenetic rule?
    8.1 On the history of the biogenetic rule
    8.2 Developmental physiological basis for recapitulation: metaphenes and interphenes
    8.3 The significance of the biogenetic rule for biological research
    8.4 The biogenetic rule and the ontogenetic development of behaviour
    8.4.1 Interphenes commonly lack external adaptive value
    8.4.2 Anatomical recapitulation with simultaneous functional "recapitulation"
    8.4.3 The role of primordial behaviour during ontogeny
    8.4.4 Morphogenesis and psychogenesis as distinct ontogenetic steps
    8.4.5 No behavioural interphenes in nervous system ontogeny
    8.5 Summary

    PART III: Contributions to the ethology of specific behavioural areas and capacities, with an emphasis on universal traits in higher mammals and unique traits in apes and humans
    9. On the evolutionary epistemological critique of constructivism
    9.1 Information and "learning" genes
    9.2 How do information, knowledge, (sense) organs and behaviour relate to the environment?
    9.3 Convergence and consistency as evidence for truthlikeness
    9.4 Expectation and experience
    9.5 Constructions or reconstructions?
    9.6 The three worlds according to Popper (1972)
    9.7 Insights and methods of constructivism
    9.7.1 Transparency
    9.7.2 Pluralism versus monism
    9.8 Conclusive remarks
    10. Human infant attachment and its significance during life
    10.1 Preliminary remarks
    10.2 Ethological aspects of attachment
    10.2.1 Human parents and their attachment to their children
    10.2.2 Comparative cross-cultural observations on adult-child interaction
    10.2.3 Allomothers and sibling-assisted brood care
    10.2.4 Human children and their attachment to their parents
    10.2.5 Programmed developmental stages of attachment and detachment
    10.2.6 The Zurich model: on the relationship between attachment, curiosity and independence
    10.3 Incest inhibition
    10.4 The susceptibility to attachment disorder
    10.5 Concluding remarks
    11. Aggression from a behavioural biological and cross-cultural perspective
    11.1 Foundations
    11.1.1 Misnamed forms of "aggression"
    11.2 Conditions that lead to aggression
    11.2.1 The three categories of genetic distance
    11.2.2 Aggression across species and cultures
    11.3 Conditions that help reduce or inhibit aggression
    11.4 Summary
    12. The biopsychology of the Zoon politikon
    12.1 Foundations and preconditions for political behaviour
    12.2 Constraints within small groups
    12.3 Constraints within large societies
    12.3.1 Affect-logic
    12.4 Chapter-appendix: comparison of sociopolitical attitudes

  • List of the author’s publications used in this book
  • Bibliography
  • Subject Index
  • Author Index

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