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Soul Searching: Human Nature and Supernatural Belief Paperback – 10 Oct 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (10 Oct. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099273411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099273417
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,421,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nicholas Humphrey is a theoretical psychologist, based in Cambridge, who is known for his work on the evolution of human intelligence and consciousness. His interests are wide ranging. He studied mountain gorillas with Dian Fossey in Rwanda, he was the first to demonstrate the existence of "blindsight" after brain damage in monkeys, he proposed the celebrated theory of the "social function of intellect, and he is the only scientist ever to edit the literary journal Granta.

His books include Consciousness Regained, The Inner Eye,A History of the Mind, Leaps of Faith, The Mind Made Flesh, Seeing Red, and Soul Dust. He has been the recipient of several honours, including the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, and the British Psychological Society's book award.

He has been Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford, Assistant Director of the Subdepartment of Animal Behaviour at Cambridge, Senior Research Fellow in Parapsychology at Cambridge, Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research, New York, and School Professor at the London School of Economics.

Product Description


An intelligent and highly readable book... Excellent -- The Times

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Nov. 1999
Format: Paperback
A very good book on our belief in the supernatural. Very well written, full of logic and reason, it delves deeply into the roots of our need for a higher reality beyond the material. A good book to give anyone who has fall prey to any claim of the supernatural. A very good read indeed.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sphex on 19 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many people hold some remarkable beliefs about the soul: it is said to be the spark of the divine, the immaterial part of man, not subject to evolution, and yet the essential human part of us that survives the body after death. Others believe that Uri Geller can bend spoons and repair watches with the power of his mind. For the rest of us who don't share these beliefs and wonder at the confidence of those who do, Nicholas Humphrey has written a compelling antidote to their wishful thinking. "Soul Searching" is rare in the long tradition of writing about the soul in that its conclusions are grounded in empirical science and logical argument, and not ready made by either religious or medical dogma.

Humphrey acknowledges that "scientific materialism is regarded by many, even by some of its own prophets, as deeply unsatisfying". We all know people who insist that there "must be something else" apart from our material existence, that "mere" matter cannot be ultimately responsible for the feelings of love and the "miracle of human consciousness". Such misgivings are deeply ingrained in our culture. So why, Humphrey asks, do "most people most of the time actually behave as if they were thoroughgoing materialists" while wishing "that they themselves do possess a soul"? What on earth is going on?

One of the things going on, of course, despite the advance of science and reason, is religion, one purpose of which is "to nurse people's hopes of transcending physical reality". Humphrey then makes the link between "soulfulness and paranormal power" and challenges any modern believer who bravely maintains that their conception of religion does not involve anything so vulgar as paranormal miracles "to have another think about just what it is they really believe in".
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