FROM GENESIS TO GENOCIDE: The Meaning of Human Nature and the Power of Behavioral Control by Stephan L. Chorover

FROM GENESIS TO GENOCIDE: The Meaning of Human Nature and the Power of Behavioral Control

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The nature of human nature and the forms society employs to modify behavior are inextricably bound together, says psychologist Stephan Chorover in this incisive analysis of social structure and ""psychotechnology,"" Belief in original sin justified the Church's role as salvator--as well as persecutor of a Galileo or a Bruno. Belief in the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest justified an already laissez-faire economy and the Spencerian views which emerged as Social Darwinism. Chorover's analysis begins with Plato, moves through the Renaissance, examines the eugenics movement, Hitler, and the holocaust, and continues to present concerns: the IQ controversy, penal reform, psychoactive drugs, psychosurgery, and behavior modification. Jensen and Herrnstein are seen as part of the self-perpetuating elitist tradition Chorover condemns: they make use of tests or other measures as self-fulffiling prophecies of biological determinism. While much of this material has been dealt with in recent tomes such as the IQ Controversy, Chorover is a masterful synthesizer and, in addition, supplies interesting new material on the scientific and medical collaborations under Hitler, and also on contemporary penal methods and measures of reform. But save for a final appeal to individual responsibility for making value judgments, Chorover offers little in the way of a counter-philosophy to oppose what he sees as the ever-increasing potential for social control--the more we know, the more we may be manipulated.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1979
Publisher: MIT Press