People Unlike Us
By Jeremy J. Millett
(Humanity Books, Hardcover, 9781591026372, 227pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
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Has human nature been essentially the same since the evolution of Homo sapiens? If we could observe tribal forest dwellers from the Paleolithic period, would we notice more similarities than differences compared with contemporary men and women? Or has human nature itself undergone such radical changes over the course of evolution that we would have trouble finding anything in common with our distant ancestors?
Political scientist Jeremy J. Millett tackles these tough questions and more in this sweeping overview of society and human nature past, present, and future. Combining philosophy, political theory, and the evidence of evolution, Millett argues that people today are very different from human beings of the distant past. He notes research suggesting that our genetic natures have been changing since the dawn of our species. Hence, the human nature of the 21st century is not the same as that of the 100th century BCE. Nor will humans of some distant future era be the same as us. Both the continuously developing genetic basis of human nature and the many differences of environment and culture have produced and will continue to produce people unlike us.
Millett examines successive periods of human development—tribal, feudal, maritime, urban, and today’s emerging global society, showing in each case how distinctive human nature was in each time period. He concludes by projecting into the future, forecasting an age of "autonomous people" who have largely escaped the need for government and for whom cooperation is the norm.
A work of great erudition and fascinating speculation, People Unlike Us raises profound questions about human nature and the future of our species.
Jeremy J. Millett, currently at Valdosta State University in Georgia, has taught political science at Rutgers University and at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.