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Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species (英語) ペーパーバック – 2000/9/5
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Maternal instinct--the all-consuming, utterly selfless love that mothers lavish on their children--has long been assumed to be an innate, indeed defining element of a woman's nature. But is it? In this provocative, groundbreaking book, renowned anthropologist (and mother) Sarah Blaffer Hrdy shares a radical new vision of motherhood and its crucial role in human evolution.
Hrdy strips away stereotypes and gender-biased myths to demonstrate that traditional views of maternal behavior are essentially wishful thinking codified as objective observation. As Hrdy argues, far from being "selfless," successful primate mothers have always combined nurturing with ambition, mother love with sexual love, ambivalence with devotion. In fact all mothers, in the struggle to guarantee both their own survival and that of their offspring, deal nimbly with competing demands and conflicting strategies.
In her nuanced, stunningly original interpretation of the relationships between mothers and fathers, mothers and babies, and mothers and their social groups, Hrdy offers not only a revolutionary new meaning to motherhood but an important new understanding of human evolution. Written with grace and clarity, suffused with the wisdom of a long and distinguished career, Mother Nature is a profound contribution to our understanding of who we are as a species--and why we have become this way.
"Sarah Hrdy's magisterial survey of childbearing through the ages sets a new standard for the graceful blending of scholarship, field research and personal experience. As meticulously documented as the book is, it never loses the human touch...Mother Nature is one of those landmark books that forces you to rethink everything you thought you knew about human nature..."
-- San Francisco Chronicle
"This is a superb book. It is beautifully and clearly written, by one of the nation's leading primatologists and sociobiologists, without sacrificing intellectual rigor; it is the best introduction I know to both fields. It establishes more convincingly than any other work with which I am familiar the relevance of the study of (other) primates and of human evolution, to urgent current issues of public policy involving women, children, and the family."
-- Richard Posner, Chief Judge, US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
"A magnificent synthesis of ideas about motherhood, this is a book brimming with warmth, wisdom, and wit. It is not easy in a polarised academic world to keep a foot in the feminist camp and another in evolutionary psychology, nor to bridge the arts and sciences so effortlessly. But Sarah Blaffer Hrdy achieves these feats."
-- Matt Ridley, author of The Origins of Virtue : Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
"Hrdy has given us a truly monumental work, as elegant as it is insightful. It took a woman scientist to find the rightful place of our species in the matrix of the animal kingdom, and Hrdy has done so brilliantly. This is by no means the usual psychobabble or hodge podge of animal behavior that other authors so often use to define us -- here is a clear and telling examination of a hitherto almost unknown organism -- the human female. Any woman wanting to know who she really is will find out in the pages of this tremendously important work of real science by a real scientist."
-- Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
"This is a brilliant, liberating book on a profoundly important subject. Sarah Hrdy, the leading scientific authority on motherhood, is also, to the benefit of us all, one of the best stylists now writing on any subject in science."
-- E.O. Wilson
"Mother Nature is a pioneering reassessment of key assumptions in debates about human evolution. By demonstrating how female strategies as mates and mothers have shaped the evolutionary process throughout nature, Hrdy succeeds in overturning some of the most entrenched theories in this scientific domain. A worthy companion to Darwin's Descent of Man, and an endlessly fascinating read, Mother Nature reflects a lifetime of bold research and judicious thought by one of the foremost primatologists of our day."
-- Frank Sulloway
"Mother Nature is a stunning achievement. The book reveals the highest scholarship with an unparalleled breadth in the use of the comparative method. Hrdy expertly uses the comparative method. Hrdy expertly uses the comparative method to illustrate her points by contrasting biology and behavior across species and orders, and by making full use of human variation both through evolutionary and historical time and across space and cultures. This book is a very accessible, scientific discussion of the evolutionary history of maternal care written by a first rate scientist."--Jane B. Lancaster, Editor of Human Nature
"By demolishing superstitions that have long clouded our true natures, Sarah Hrdy shows how knowledge may be our best tool for achieving justice among women, men, and the generations that follow. Clear-eyed science can equip us for this liberating journey, far better than any rigid ideology. Mother Nature takes us one bold step along that road."
-- David Brin, author of Glory Season and The Transparent Society
"This is a deep and brilliant work, a masterful account of mother nature and the nature of motherhood, with a superb selection of photos, built on a powerful logic by someone who easily and clearily sees life both from the inside and the outside."
-- Robert Trivers, Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University
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This book also elevated my concern for the girls I work with who are teens, coming from teen mothers (who also came from teen mothers), who seem to be fast careening towards motherhood without the resources and the patience that are critical to successful rearing of children. I liked her discussion of how girls change from pre-adolescence to adolesence in foraging societies: The pre-adolescents are the girls who are more interested in learning childcare, as opposed to the adolescents, who are more interested in dating. Anecdotally, I would confirm this! In foraging societies, girls do not gain enough fat until their late adolescence to their early twenties, and thus they do not reproduce as early as their well-fed American counterparts. For me, this is all the more reason to take measures to mentor kids, so that they have children when they will it and are ready, rather than simply because they may be biologically capable of it.
Motherhood, she declares, is anything but the simple mythology of unrestrained devotion. Across all Nature, mothers and their offspring wage ongoing competition. The issue is resources. Infants, all infants, demand as much as a mother can give, and more. Mothers have to support their infants, but inevitably are occupied with other responsibilities, not the least of which may be the infant's siblings. There are others beyond the mother-infant tie to which she must respond. If her species is male-dominated, she may face his abuse. Worse, she may be confronted by invasion by an outside male. In some species, that spells the doom of her infant. Hrdy has studied this and related aspects of motherhood among many species, and expresses her own shock at the discovery of primate infanticide.
Mothers must maintain many elements in balance, with but a gentle pressure on the scale resulting in disaster. Family size, role in the family and in the group, location, changing conditions, all contribute to the complexity surrounding a mother's relationship with her offspring. In humans, this complicated arrangement carries the added burden of a wholly dependent child. Even monkey young can cling to a foraging mother. Human babies must be carried. In our evolutionary past, this condition made the pair vulnerable to predators. Hrdy coins the phrase "alloparent" applied to another option - allocating care of the baby to someone else. In the modern world, of course, we call it "day care." Allomothers exist in many primate species, however. "Care-giving" isn't just an urban condition.
"Allomothering" historically has led to some disreputable practices, from child slavery to outright abandonment. Hrdy cites horrifying statistics for infants abandoned at foundling homes. Still, we have no reason to doubt her numbers. Orphans, like other prisoners, are a forgotten element in civilized society. There's another side to allomothering among humans. What to do with women who are no longer able to bear children - the uniquely human phenomenon known as "menopause"? Hrdy's response typically focuses on evolutionary roots. Women no longer hindered by their own offspring are ideal care-givers. With their experience and wisdom, they readily handle child care and other activities. The "granny" evolved in humans in large part due to infant dependence, Hrdy stresses. It was a significant step in forming the human community.
Hrdy's free-flowing style and ready wit make this important book highly readable and informative. She's done, or drawn on, a wealth of research to produce it, presenting riches of information without resorting to pedantry. It's an extraordinary accomplishment, deserving your fullest attention, your gender notwithstanding.