Historical knowledge is fundamental to human self-understanding. It is historical knowledge which enables us to see 'being human' as an out of self-creation, with a past and a future, and which shows the limits of belief in a fixed 'human nature'.
This book is a philosophical and historical response to modern western discussion of what is human. It moves across the disciplinary boundaries, which divide up intellectual life, in pursuit of a conception of 'the human sciences'. Roger Smith explains why human self-knowledge must go beyond the rival claims of biology and religion to include history, and he achieves a unique and original synthesis of the alternative to an overly biological view.
The writing is succinct, lively and informed by a rare breadth of familiarity with history, philosophy and science from the eighteenth century to the present. It does not force an answer on readers but finds ways, without using specialist knowledge or jargon, to make clear the complete project of human self-understanding. -- .
Roger Smith is Reader Emeritus in History of Science at Lancaster University; consultant for the Institute for the History of Science and Technology, and associate at the Institute of Psychology, the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow -- .