By Nature Unnatural: A Cultural Corrective to Biocentric Approaches to the Human Mind

Lecture Annual David Hume Lecture on Human Nature

Jesse Prinz, Ph.D.

These days many aspects of human behavior are being explained by appeal to genes, evolved instincts, and hard-wired brain circuits. In many cases, such explanations overestimate the contribution of biology. A growing body of research suggests that culture exerts a strong influence on human behavior. 

Traits once thought to be grounded in nature owe at least as much to nurture. Perception, emotion, thinking, and values can all be culturally shaped. The cultural approach to psychology cautions against exaggerating human universals, and against treating group differences as biologically given and fixed.

Jesse Prinz is Distinguished Professor of philosophy and director of the Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies at the City University of New York. His publications include The Conscious Brain (New York: Oxford University Press),  Beyond Human Nature (London: Penguin / New York: Norton), The Emotional Construction of Morals (Oxford: Oxford University Press),  Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (New York: Oxford University Press) and Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) as well as over 100 papers in scholarly journals.


(207) 602-2237

5:00 PM
St. Francis Room, Jack Ketchum Library

Biddeford Campus

Free and open to the public