Natural Science of the Human Species - an Introduction to Comparative Behavioral Research: The "Russian Manuscript" (19 [Book Review]

MIT Press (MA) (1995)
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Abstract

Edited from the author's posthumous works by Agnes von Cranach. Topics incl. natural science & idealistic philosophy, general attempts to define life, vitalism, mechanism, etc.\Here Am I Where Are You?: The Behavior of the Greylag Goose was thought to be Konrad Lorenz's last book. However, in 1991 the "Russian Manuscript" was discovered in an attic, and its subsequent publication in German has become a scientific sensation. Written under the most extreme conditions in Soviet prison camps, the "Russian Manuscript" was the first outline of a large-scale work on behavioral science. This translation contains a synopsis of all the ideas that made Lorenz famous as the founder of ethology, the study of comparative animal behavior. Written just after World War II, while the author was incarcerated in a Soviet prison camp, this so-called "Russian manuscript" was believed lost forever. Its rediscovery in 1991 and, now, its publication represent a major contribution to the history of science and the advancement of the behavioral sciences. This book contains some of the earliest formulations of the discipline that Lorenz called comparative behavioral research (i.e., ethology); its theories also portend the development of sociobiology and the new fields of behavioral and genetic psychology. He writes, "The route to an understanding of humans leads just as surely through an understanding of animals as the evolutionary pathway of humans had led through animal precursors." Lorenz also devotes almost equal attention to the "Philosophical Prolegomena" as to the "Biological Prologomena," arguing, in the process, for a synthesis between the sciences and the humanities as complementary expressions of human cognition. The text, edited by Lorenz's daughter, is full of literary excesses; although comprehensible to the lay reader, it is not particularly enjoyable to read. Still, such a book's value cannot be measured by its popularity alone. Important for any general science collection and indispensable for all academic or history of science collections.-Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib.

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