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On Human Nature - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780124201903, 9780127999159

On Human Nature

1st Edition

Biology, Psychology, Ethics, Politics, and Religion

Editors: Michel Tibayrenc Francisco J. Ayala
Hardcover ISBN: 9780124201903
eBook ISBN: 9780127999159
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 12th September 2016
Page Count: 814
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On Human Nature: Biology, Psychology, Ethics, Politics, and Religion covers the present state of knowledge on human diversity and its adaptative significance through a broad and eclectic selection of representative chapters. This transdisciplinary work brings together specialists from various fields who rarely interact, including geneticists, evolutionists, physicians, ethologists, psychoanalysts, anthropologists, sociologists, theologians, historians, linguists, and philosophers.

Genomic diversity is covered in several chapters dealing with biology, including the differences in men and apes and the genetic diversity of mankind. Top specialists, known for their open mind and broad knowledge have been carefully selected to cover each topic. The book is therefore at the crossroads between biology and human sciences, going beyond classical science in the Popperian sense.

The book is accessible not only to specialists, but also to students, professors, and the educated public. Glossaries of specialized terms and general public references help nonspecialists understand complex notions, with contributions avoiding technical jargon.

Key Features

  • Provides greater understanding of diversity and population structure and history, with crucial foundational knowledge needed to conduct research in a variety of fields, such as genetics and disease
  • Includes three robust sections on biological, psychological, and ethical aspects, with cross-fertilization and reciprocal references between the three sections
  • Contains contributions by leading experts in their respective fields working under the guidance of internationally recognized and highly respected editors


Biologists, evolutionary biologists, developmental biologists, and researchers in genetics, medicine, paleontology, ethology, anthropology, psychology, and sociology, as well as students and academics in these areas

Table of Contents

  • List of Contributors
  • Editors' Biographies
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Part I. Biological Basis of Human Diversity
    • Chapter 1. The Advent of Biological Evolution and Humankind: Chance or Necessity?
      • Chance and Necessity
      • Epigenetic Processes
      • What Is a Hominin?
      • Human Similarities and Differences
      • The Distinctive Features of Humans
      • Chance and Necessity in Human Evolution
      • Can Adaptive Advantages of Bipedalism Be Identified?
      • “Partial” Versus “Complete” Bipedalism
      • The Two Adaptive Advantages of Bipedalism
      • The Origin of Modern Humans
    • Chapter 2. Hominins: Context, Origins, and Taxic Diversity
      • Hominins Located in the Tree of Life
      • Candidates for the Stem Hominin
      • Assessing the Claims for Hominin Status
      • Ladder or Bush?
      • Evidence of Taxic Diversity Within the Hominin Clade
      • 7.0–5.0 Ma
      • 5.0–4.0 Ma
      • 4.0–3.0 Ma
      • 3.0–2.5 Ma
      • 2.5–2.0 Ma
      • 2.0–1.5 Ma
      • 1.5–1.0 Ma
      • 1.0–0.25 Ma
      • 0.25 Ma to the Present
      • Discussion
      • Conclusions
    • Chapter 3. The History of Early Homo
      • The First Homo
      • The Discovery of Homo erectus
      • Dmanisi
      • Hominins
      • Paleoenvironment
      • Stone Tools
      • Post–Homo erectus Evidence
      • Hobbit
      • Conclusion: What We Learned from the Dmanisi Case
    • Chapter 4. The Contribution of Genetic Ancestry From Archaic Humans to Modern Humans
      • Models of Human Origins
      • Other Archaic Human Genomes
      • Archaic Genomes and Modern Human Dispersals
      • Archaic Genomes and Selection
      • Concluding Remarks
    • Chapter 5. World Dispersals and Genetic Diversity of Mankind: The Out-of-Africa Theory and Its Challenges
      • Introduction
      • Phylogeography and Models of Human Evolution
      • Fossils, Archaeology, and Models of Human Evolution
      • Implications of Recent Human Evolution for Current Patterns of Human Genetic Diversity
      • Summary and Conclusions
      • The Evolutionary and Genetic Unity of the Human Species
    • Chapter 6. Human Population Variability and Its Adaptive Significance
      • A Mankind Population Genetics Framework for Applied Research
      • Rarity Matters: Rare Variants and Low Frequency Variants
      • Copy Number Matters: Structural Variation
      • Not Only Genes: Regulation Is a Major Actor
      • What About Phenotypic Geographical Variation?
      • Abundant Indications for Recent and Geographically Differentiated Evolution
      • Conclusion
      • Glossary of Specialized Terms
    • Chapter 7. Evolution and Implications of Genomic Diversity on “Human Kind” in India
      • Introduction
      • Peopling of India
      • Implications in Health and Disease
      • India: Grandest Experiment of Nature
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 8. The Human Brain: Evolution and Distinctive Features
      • Introduction
      • Some Basic Neuroanatomy
      • Themes and Theories in Human Brain Evolution
      • Evolution of Brain Size and External Morphology
      • Internal Changes
      • Molecular Specializations Relevant to Human Brain Evolution
      • Conclusions
    • Chapter 9. How Different Are Humans and “Great Apes”? A Matrix of Comparative Anthropogeny
      • The Challenge of Comparative Anthropogeny
      • Our Evolutionary Heritage and Primate Nature
      • Comparative Anthropogeny
      • Matrix of Comparative Anthropogeny
      • Selected Examples of Comparative Anthropogeny
      • Topic Timelines and Relationships
      • Generating Networks of Relationships Among Matrix of Comparative Anthropogeny Topics
      • Synthesis With Existing Theories of Human Origins
      • Caveat: Absence of Evidence in Nonhuman Primates Is Not Evidence for Absence
      • Moving the Goalposts
      • Conclusions and Future Prospects
    • Chapter 10. Human Intergroup Variation and Disease Genetics
      • Introduction
      • Brief Review of Population Structure and Recent Evolution in Humans
      • Looking for Disease Genes: Candidate Genes, GWAS, WGS; CD/CV, RV
      • Mendelian Diseases Around the World
      • Geographical Distribution of Complex Diseases
      • Transmissible Diseases, Still the Main Factor of Natural Selection in Humans
      • Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases: The Hygiene Hypothesis
      • Resistance Alleles
      • Concluding Remarks
      • Glossary
    • Chapter 11. Natural Selection Associated With Infectious Diseases
      • Infectious Diseases and Human Evolution
      • Detecting Natural Selection in the Human Genome
      • Signatures of Pathogen-Driven Natural Selection in the Human Genome
      • Evolutionary Causes of Susceptibility to Infectious Diseases
      • Future Perspectives
    • Chapter 12. Aging, Somatic Evolution, and Cancer
      • Multicellularity and Somatic Evolution
      • Organismal Fitness Versus Stem Cell Fitness
      • Aging and Somatic Evolution
      • Evolutionary Strategies for Cancer Suppression
      • Tissue Organization and Tumor Suppression
      • Evolutionary Understanding of Cancer: An Imminent Paradigm Shift
    • Chapter 13. Evolution of the Human Leukocyte Antigen System
      • Introduction
      • Competing Evolutionary Pressures: HLA–NK Cell Interaction
      • Future Considerations
      • Conclusions
    • Chapter 14. Human Life History Evolution: New Perspectives on Body and Brain Growth
      • Introduction
      • Mammalian Patterns
      • Primate Patterns
      • Humans
      • Brain Evolution
      • Gene Expression
      • APOE Alleles
      • Prospectus
    • Chapter 15. Gorillas in Our Midst? Human Sexual Dimorphism and Contest Competition in Men
      • Introduction
      • Strength of Sexual Selection in Men
      • Selection for Male Contests
      • Alternatives to Male Contests
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 16. The Human Family: Evolutionary Origins and Adaptive Significance
      • Brain, Childhood, and Family
      • The Human Family
      • Neurological and Physiological Mechanisms
      • Summary and Concluding Remarks
    • Chapter 17. Biological Future of Humankind: Ongoing Evolution and the Impact of Recognition of Human Biological Variation
      • Basic Principles of Human Adaptation
      • Recent Change of Human Ecology
      • Structural Reduction of Human Morphology
      • Changes in Body Height
      • Changes of Anatomical Structures
      • Changes in Natural Selection
      • Gene Flow Increasing Variation in Populations
      • Coevolution of Humans and Pathogens
      • Adaptations at the End of Life
      • Miscarriage Rate and Maternal Age as Influencing Factors
      • Influence by In Vitro Fertilization
      • Influences of Changes in Family Structure
      • Changes in Health and Disease Definition as a Consequence
  • Part II. Psychology, Behavior and Society
    • Chapter 18. Gene-Culture Models for the Evolution of Altruistic Teaching
      • Introduction
      • Basic Haploid Model with Asexual Reproduction and Uniparental Transmission (ARUT)
      • Haploid Model with Sexual Reproduction and Biparental Transmission (SRBT)
      • Adding Oblique Transmission
      • Adding Horizontal Transmission (VTHT)
      • Discussion
      • Appendices
    • Chapter 19. Multiple Origins of Agriculture in Eurasia and Africa
      • Introduction
      • The Terminology Conundrum
      • The Social Contexts of Cultivation and Domestication Emergence
      • Animal Domestication
      • Pathways to the Domestication of Plants
      • Intra and Interregional Connections
      • The Centers for Plant Cultivation and Domestication
      • The Spread of Agriculture to the “Noncenters” and Its Impacts
      • Brief Review of the Americas
      • Discussion
    • Chapter 20. The Quantum Origin of Life: How the Brain Evolved to Feel Good
      • Introduction: Which Came First, Feelings or the Brain?
      • Consciousness on the Edge Between Quantum and Classical Worlds
      • Life in the Quantum Underground
      • Microtubules and Sex in the Primordial Soup
      • Conclusion: Did “Quantum Feelings” Spark the Origin and Evolution of Life?
    • Chapter 21. Empathy, Theory of Mind, Cognition, Morality, and Altruism
      • Introduction
      • Neuroscience and Dynamics of Empathy
      • Theory of Mind (ToM)
      • The Relationship Between Empathy, ToM, Morality, and Other Neural Networks
      • The Mesolimbic and Cortical Systems and Their Relationship With Altruism
      • What Is Altruism? (Hint: It's not Necessarily What It Looks Like)
      • The Problem With Prosociality
      • Harmful Prosocial Behavior
      • Altruism Through Evolution to Today
    • Chapter 22. Cognitive Ethology and Social Attention
      • Introduction
      • Cognitive Ethology
      • Cognitive Ethology: Lab to Life
      • Cognitive Ethology: Life to Lab
      • Summary
      • Concluding Comments
    • Chapter 23. Human Sociobiology and Group Selection Theory
      • What Is Human Sociobiology?
      • The First Wave of Criticisms of Sociobiology
      • Kin Selection and Human Sociobiology
      • Group Selection and Human Altruism
      • Why Have Wilson's Views on the Importance of Multilevel Selection Been Largely Ignored by Evolutionary Biologists?
      • What About Humans?
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 24. Behavior Analysis, Darwinian Evolutionary Processes, and the Diversity of Human Behavior
      • Population Thinking
      • Darwinian Evolutionary Process
      • Evolutionary Explanations of Behavior
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 25. A Psychoanalyst Views the Self Across Civilizations
      • Prologue
      • The Social and Cultural Contexts of the Familial Self
      • The Familial Self
      • The Magic Cosmic and Spiritual Self
      • Social and Cultural Contexts of Western Individualism
      • Epilogue
    • Chapter 26. Biological and Social Causation of Serious Mental Illness
      • Diagnosing Mental Illness
      • Theories of Etiology
      • Mental Illness and Biology and Environment
    • Chapter 27. The Flexible Psychological Concept of Normality
      • Part One
      • Part Two
    • Chapter 28. Diversity and Hierarchy in the Evolution of Mental Mechanisms
      • Introduction
      • Evo-Devo and Descent With Modification in the Brain
      • Classical Versus Hierarchical Modularity
      • Most of Human Nature Is Not Human Specific
      • Much of Human Uniqueness Arises in Part From Non-Uniquely Human Mechanisms
      • Part of Human Uniqueness Must Lie in Uniquely Modified Interactions
      • Evolutionary Feedback as a Missing Ingredient
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 29. Human Diversity at the Individual and Population Levels, and Societal Hierarchies
      • Introduction
      • Hierarchies and Dominance in the Animal Kingdom
      • Do Humans Have Hierarchies?
      • Uniquely Human Social Cognition
      • How Our Ancestors Challenged Hierarchies
      • Why Hierarchies Are Functional
      • From Cooperative to Exploitative Hierarchies
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 30. Homosexuality and Evolution: A Critical Appraisal
      • Introduction
      • Extent of Homosexuality
      • Substance of Homosexuality
      • Function of Homosexuality
      • Summary
    • Chapter 31. The Roots and Individual Diversity of Addiction
      • Introduction
      • Addictive Behavior in Humans Throughout History
      • Roots of Reinforcement and Motivation in Addiction
      • Dissecting Addictive Behavior: Approaches to Measure Reward and Addictive Phenotypes in Humans and Animals
      • The Diversity in Transition to Addiction: Vulnerability Factors
      • Concluding Remarks
    • Chapter 32. Human Variability and the Origins and Evolution of Language
      • Introduction
      • Levels of Relaxed Selection
      • Relaxed Selection and Brain Evolution
      • Conclusions and Possible Implications
    • Chapter 33. Human Evolution and Progress
      • Introduction
      • The Ladder of Life
      • The Idea of Progress
      • Definition of Progress
      • Kinds of Progress
      • Progress as a Biological Concept
      • Is Evolution Universally Progressive?
      • Evolutionary Progress
      • Progress and Human Consciousness
      • Concluding Remarks
    • Chapter 34. Culture, Brain, and Behavior: The Implications of Neural Plasticity and Development on Social Contexts and Political Structures
      • The Interaction of Brain and Culture
      • Genetic Predispositions and Motivational Drives
      • Cultural Practices and Long-Term Effects on Gene Expression and Epigenetic Processes
      • Interaction of Culture and Development
      • Conclusion
  • Part III. Ethics, Politics and Religious Considerations
    • Chapter 35. Adaptive Significance of Ethics and Aesthetics
      • Introduction
      • Darwin and the Moral Sense
      • Moral Behavior Versus Moral Norms
      • Darwinian Aftermath
      • Moral Behavior as Rational Behavior
      • Conditions for Ethical Behavior
      • Adaptation or Exaptation?
      • Altruism and Group Selection
      • Whence Moral Codes?
      • Sociobiology's Account of Moral Behavior
      • Altruism: Biological and Moral
      • Gene–Culture Coevolution
      • Aesthetics
      • Oldowan and Acheulean Cultures
      • Mousterian Culture and Neandertals
      • Symbolism and Aesthetics: Aurignacian and Magdalenian Cultures
    • Chapter 36. The Politics of Human Nature
      • Introduction
      • Dehumanization
      • Evidence From History, Cultural Anthropology, and Social Psychology
      • Two Forms of Dehumanization, From Explicit to Implicit
      • Functional Perspective Necessary
      • Conclusion and Outlook
    • Chapter 37. The Race/Ethnic Debate: An Outsider's View
      • Where Are We Now: Human Genetic Diversity in Light of Modern Genomics
      • The Taxonomical Problem: Are There “Races”?
      • Is Race a Social Construction?
      • The Fst Argument
      • Discrepancies?
      • Homogeneity and Boundaries
      • So, How Many Races Are There (if Any)?
      • Races, Subspecies, and Species in Animals
      • Semantic Caution: A Headache
      • Censorship?
      • Two Different Strategies to Fight Racism
    • Chapter 38. Social Darwinism
      • Charles Darwin
      • Social Views
      • Herbert Spencer
      • Points to Consider
      • Adolf Hitler
      • Julian Huxley
      • Edward O. Wilson
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 39. History and Diversity of Religion
      • Religious Versus Nonreligious
      • The Problem of Defining
      • Defining Religion
      • Classifying Religion as a Project of Secular Modernity
      • The Development and Use of “Religion” in East Asia in the 19th and 20th Centuries
      • Concluding Thoughts
    • Chapter 40. Religion Viewed From Different Sciences
      • What Is Science and What Is Religion?
      • There Would Be No Room for Religion, if Science Covers All There Is
      • There Would Be No Room for Religion if There Is Only “Matter” in This Universe
      • There Would Be No Room for Religion if Science Can Explain Religion Away
      • There Would Be No Room for Religion if We Go by the “Hard” Facts
      • How Do We Get to the Facts?
      • Is There a Way for Science and Religion to Live Together?
    • Chapter 41. Universal Humanity, Religious Particularity, and Scientific Reductionism
      • The First Gap: Consciousness in the Context of Neuroscience and Neurophilosophy
      • The Second Gap: Religion in the Context of Sociobiology's Account of Evolution
      • The Third Gap: Big History as the Comprehensive Context
      • From Beyond Nature and History: The Axial Breakthrough
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 42. Evolution and the Future of Medicine
      • Introduction
      • The Idea of Evolutionary Medicine
      • An Evolutionary Perspective on Genomic Medicine
      • A Hamiltonian Approach to the Chronic Diseases of Aging
      • Strategies for Pharmaceutical Development
      • Conclusion: A Fourth Re-Visioning of Medicine
    • Chapter 43. The Impact of Modern Medicine on Human Evolution
      • Introduction
      • Eugenics
      • The Impact of Modern Medicine on Human Evolution
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 44. Science and Technology in Human Societies: From Tool Making to Technology
      • Tool Making
      • Precultural Uses of Tools
      • Taphonomic Indications of Culture
      • Mode 1: Oldowan Culture
      • The Transition Mode 1 (Oldowan) to Mode 2 (Acheulean)
      • The Acheulean Technique
      • Culture and Dispersal
      • An Ancient Mode 2 in Asia?
      • The Transition Mode 2 (Acheulean) to Mode 3 (Mousterian)
      • Neandertals and Mousterian Culture
      • The Transition Mode 3 (Mousterian) to Mode 4 (Aurignacian)
      • The African Middle Stone Age
      • The Protagonists of the South African MSA
      • The Way Out of Africa for Homo sapiens
      • Transitional Industries
    • Chapter 45. Biology, Psychology, Ethics, and Politics: An Innate Moral Sense?
      • The Original Moral Sense Theory
      • Contemporary Evidence of a Moral Sense
      • Moral Psychology and Neuroscience
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 46. What HIV Has Taught About the Interactions Between Biology, Culture, and Other Evolving Systems
      • The Interaction of Evolutionary Systems
      • Antiretroviral Therapy in Treatment and Prevention
      • Cultural and Political Context and Response to HIV
      • Size of the HIV Epidemic
      • Current Targets and Priorities to Control the HIV Epidemic
      • What Can Be Learned From Our Response to HIV?
  • Index


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© Academic Press 2016
12th September 2016
Academic Press
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About the Editors

Michel Tibayrenc

Michel Tibayrenc

Michel Tibayrenc, MD, PhD, has worked on the evolution of infectious diseases for more than 35 years. He is a director of research emeritus at the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), the founder and editor-in-chief of Infection, Genetics and Evolution (Elsevier), with a 2014 impact factor of 3.015, and the founder and principal organizer of the international congresses MEEGID (molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics of infectious diseases). He is the author of more than 200 international papers. He has worked for one year in Algeria (as a general practitioner), one year in French Guiana, seven years in Bolivia, five years in the United States, and three years in Thailand. He has been the head of the unit of research “genetics and evolution of infectious diseases” at the IRD research center in Montpellier, France, for 20 years. With his collaborator Jenny Telleria, he is the founder and scientific adviser of the Bolivian Society of Human Genetics (2012). He has won the prize of the Belgian Society of tropical medicine (1985), the medal of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro (2000), for his work on Chagas disease, and he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993).

Affiliations and Expertise

Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Laboratory, IRD Center, Montpellier, France

Francisco J. Ayala

Francisco J. Ayala is University Professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Ayala is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a recipient of the 2001 National Medal of Science, and served as Chair of the Authoring Committee of Science, Evolution, and Creationism, jointly published in 2008 by the NAS and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ayala has received numerous awards, including the 2010 Templeton Prize for “exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension,” and 23 honorary degrees from universities in ten countries. He has been President and Chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and President of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society of the United States. Dr. Ayala has written numerous books and articles about the intersection of science and religion, including Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion (Joseph Henry Press, 2007), Am I a Monkey? (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), and The Big Questions. Evolution (Quercus, 2012). He is also the author, with Camilo J. Cela-Conde, of Human Evolution. Trails from the Past (Oxford University Press, 2007). He teaches classes in evolution, genetics, and the philosophy of biology, which are also the subjects of his research.

Affiliations and Expertise

School of Biological Sciences, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA


"The editors have done a tremendous job in putting together all these topics in a single, informative, rich (but also expensive - a downside) book. To a non-expert, this book is an amazing resource; it looks like an encyclopedia of human nature. Like many others, I have been arguing that science students need to get an education in a variety of fields and not just in that of their specialization, because such an education can make them true scholars. I am aware that in many cases this is difficult to achieve during one’s undergraduate studies. Therefore, books like On Human Nature might be useful for filling this gap." --Science and Education

"This is not a book that one would read from beginning to end; this is a book in which one will come back again and again to learn and get insights. ...The editors have done a tremendous job in putting together all these topics in a single, informative, rich (but also expensive - a downside) book. To a non-expert, this book is an amazing resource; it looks like an encyclopedia of human nature." --Science & Education

 "This is an impressive volume...This is a book for the serious student of human nature. The chapters are sometimes technical, although readily understandable for anyone with a reasonably good, general understanding of human evolution and biology." --Quarterly Review of Biology

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