What's Left of Human Nature?
A Post-Essentialist, Pluralist, and Interactive Account of a Contested Concept
MIT Press 2018
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in PhilosophyNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in PsychologyNew Books in ScienceNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network January 15, 2019 Carrie Figdor
Much of the debate about the roles of nature vs. nurture in the development of individual people has settled into accepting that it’s a bit of both, although what each contributes to a given trait or feature, how much, and they interact are still matters of dispute. In What’s Left of Human Nature? A Post-Essentialist, Pluralist, and Interactive Account of a Contested Concept (MIT Press, 2018), Maria Kronfeldner critically examines instead the ‘nature’ side of this dichotomy: what exactly is a human “nature”? Is it some kind of fixed human essence, a statistical norm, a normative ideal of how a human being ought to be? Kronfeldner, who is an associate professor of philosophy at Central European University in Budapest, argues against an essentialist view of nature, and replaces it with three concepts – descriptive, classificatory, and explanatory natures – that can do the various jobs that we want a “nature” concept to do without contributing to dehumanization, as the essentialist concept frequently has.