A Good Book for a Psychology Textbook, Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind: A Review

While tidying up and rearranging furniture in all the rooms in anticipation of out-of-state company in June, I came across a yellow legal pad which had fallen behind the dresser.  On it were the notes for a review of Jesse J. Prinz’s book which deals with the human mind.  Checking back over Sunday (Evening) Posts, I never reported finishing the book nor posted its review, so here it is.

This 2012 publication by Jesse J. Prinz would make an excellent psychology textbook, as it deals with a review of the nature vs nature debate while focusing on what is uniquely human and what is universally human as opposed to the animal kingdom. Studies and case studies from both kingdoms are given as well as the author’s “take” on the role of biology on the human mind and on human behaviors. The author takes issue with the notion that “genetics explains all,” as he explains that society and culture influence the human brain as well.

The book opens with a brief review of the nature vs nurture issue, giving historical background on these thoughts and goes on to break the discussion down into the following sections:

Origin of traits–The discussion of intelligence testing is especially good.

Origin of knowledge–The author’s explanation of theories of infant development and psychology is handled well.

Origin of language–The cultural influence on language as part of its development is accurate and very readable.

Origin of thinking– The genetic influence is delved in depth.

Origin of feelings– Were feelings developed as a result of evolution?  The author considers this question.

Origin of Values– Are we born to be good? Another question the author contemplates.

Giving both animal and human studies and analogies, the author compiles an excellent and surprisingly readable textbook which has clever, even humorous examples, explanations, and asides throughout.  It is a serious study, but a pleasant reading experience.




Author: Rae Longest

This year marks my fiftieth year in AAUW (American Association of University Women). The Alvin chapter was begun in 1947, and as a new, green teacher to Alvin Independent School District, I joined in 1968. In the 80's we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015. Eventually Powerful Women Readers folded as an on-line book club, but I kept the title and turned it into a blog. (See "Introduction,"first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 28th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are "in my blood" just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

4 thoughts on “A Good Book for a Psychology Textbook, Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind: A Review”

    1. About the only real conclusion was that nature (genetics/DNA) and nurture (environment/parenting history etc.) are not the ONLY formers of human nature, but that culture and experience are very formative as well. Like most books on psychology of any kind, the call for “more research is needed…” is a given.

      Liked by 1 person

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