- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Fourth Estate (27 Mar. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007447795
- ISBN-13: 978-0007447794
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.4 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 271,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
How to Make a Human Being: A Body of Evidence Hardcover – 27 Mar 2014
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‘A clever, subtle, enjoyable book — and a deeply English one, full of idiosyncrasy and resistance to easy answers’ Sunday Times
‘Sparky and fun… Auperb. Potter investigates what it is to be human, and his method is to investigate the history of human thought’ Evening Standard
‘Beautiful and profound … Not only unlike any work of literature I’ve read, it comes closer than any new work I’ve read to doing full justice to the impossible complexity of living a life … It concerns matters of mortality, and of grocery shopping. It is – I’ll just say it – a significant book’ Michael Cunningham, author of ‘The Hours’
‘A sort of commonplace book full of paradox and conflicting ideas, shocking facts and redemptive anecdotes, turbulent with two or three millennia of human thought … The source material is wonderfully diverse … Very enjoyable’ Guardian
‘Well-travelled imaginations will enjoy a jaunt with fiery polymath Christopher Potter; “How to Make a Human Being” is a quirky investigation into our deepest nature’ Hilary Mantel, Guardian
‘Rich and wonderful … A clever, subtle, enjoyable book. If we are a parliament of selves, this book is a parliament of explanations’ Sunday Times
‘Potter illuminates the human in all its manifestations from single cell to creator of culture … The scattershot narrative somehow coalesces into a brilliant whole and compelling case for anti-reductionism’ Nature Magazine
‘Potter always has something interesting to say, even if you disagree … this is a wonderful and unique book.’ Lisa Randall, Professor of Physics at Harvard University
About the Author
Christopher Potter spent almost a quarter of a century in publishing, over 17 of those years at the independent publishing house Fourth Estate, where he became publisher and managing director. His first book was the much-praised ‘You Are Here, A Portable History of the Universe’. ‘How To Make a Human Being’ is his second.
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Top Customer Reviews
Christopher Potter’s deep and wide-ranging empathy for all these perspectives ensures that the experience of reading it is constantly to be surprised, moved, or delighted into new perceptions, and no side is stereotyped or reduced. While describing with wonder the recent astonishing progress in physics, biochemistry and neuroscience, he deploys the voices of eminent scientists to reveal how well they understand the limitations of their field of enquiry (things measurable “by a clock and a ruler”). New scientific advances can typically flow not from dry observation but acts of imagination as inspired as art. Like great artists, they destroy or constrict what were previously certainties. What our universe is, and what it means to be human, are always unravelling. We are an unstable field, and in this a microcosm of our cosmic surroundings, but one capable, at our best, of astonishing and unmeasurable perception, each holding, as Potter reveals, in a human brain, the most complex thing so far discovered in creation.
Meaning may belong more in metaphor, where poets and religious thinkers have often dwelt, questioning those who, from any side of the argument, have propounded narrow certainties.Read more ›
I'm in full agreement with previous reviewers on two points. One, I can also imagine this staying on my Kindle somewhat permanently, to be taken out at any moment of pause in one's day -- which is in fact what I've done with it since finishing it. Though I find its physical version much more pleasing for this purpose. Like a tiny handful of rare works which have gone before it, it doesn't seem "done" when one's finished reading it, I keep wanting to go back, bounce around to different spots and explore. It's almost a generative work that way.
Two, it feels very much to me like a fresh approach to science writing in general; being written from a perspective that, at least to my mind, abandons the (imagined) security of setting forth an explication of Things As They Are (with its attendant pomposities large and small) and somehow manages to place a realistically human point of view, perhaps it's more accurate to say *manner* of perceiving, at the center of these various arrays of facts -- the wildly imperfect, frequently imaginary, occasionally brilliant, bias-driven set of contradictions which is our actual human perspective, as one experiences it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Intriguing book. I read the e-book first and then bought a hard copy for my daughter who is studying psychology and neuroscience.Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is an intriguing, exciting and challenging book that circles around Q's of negative capability in the face of the inevitable existential uncertainty of being human. Read morePublished 21 months ago by GRANE
I bought this book because I thought it might be about evolution, biology, history and stuff. In fact it's a self regarding and lazy conflation of quotes from physicists,... Read morePublished 21 months ago by James-philip Harries
Simply, science is what we know (and how we came to know it); the rest is chanting in the dark. Potter likes to blur the line. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso'
I think this is a wonderful book. It really does go into all those questions about life and existence, but in a way that so unernest, and draws on the wisdom of so many people,... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Carrington