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Beyond EvolutionHuman Nature and the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation$
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Anthony O'Hear

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250043

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198250045.001.0001

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Mind and Nature

Mind and Nature

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Mind and Nature
Source:
Beyond Evolution
Author(s):

Anthony O'Hear (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198250045.003.0001

Despite being material beings, humans are unlike most material objects—we are conscious and able to express our thoughts in language. This book examines the possibility of giving a naturalistic explanation of these latter aspects of human activity. The last discourse of Socrates in Plato's Phaedo suggests that it is possible that some of our motivations are non‐Darwinian, i.e. not directly concerned with survival and reproduction and that our nature as conscious agents can make our goals and projects puzzling or inexplicable in physical or biological terms. If we are programmed for survival and reproduction, why, e.g. did Socrates choose that fate that he did? Kant and Wittgenstein represent modern philosophers who also circumscribe the role of naturalistic explanation and leave room for a philosophical account of our behaviour as rational, moral agents concerned with thinking and acting for the best.

Keywords:   agency, consciousness, Darwinism, Kant, Phaedo, reproduction, scientific explanation, Socrates, survival, Wittgenstein

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