Who is Mary Midgley?June 26, 2021
Mary Beatrice Midgley, born 13 September 1919, is a British philosopher.
She worked as a Lecturer in Philosophy at Newcastle University and is known for her work on scripting and animal rights.
British philosopher Mary Midgley examines the effects of the natural sciences on our understanding of human nature in her book “The Beast and the Man” published in 1978. It is often claimed that the findings of the sciences, particularly paleontology and evolutionary biology, undermine our views of being human. Midgley seeks to address these fears, and it does so by emphasizing what sets us apart from animals and what we share with the rest of the animal kingdom.
One of the questions he addresses is the relationship between nature and culture in human life. His main concern is to draw attention to the fact that most people view nature and culture as opposed to each other, as if nature were something unnatural that was added to our animalistic side. Midgley disagrees with the idea that culture is something of an entirely different order from nature. Instead, she argues that culture is a natural phenomenon. In other words, we have evolved into animals with cultures.
It could be said that we weave our culture just as a spider weaves its web. If this is so, then we too cannot do without our culture, than the spider can do without its web: our need for culture is both innate and natural. In this way Midgley hoped to both explain human uniqueness and place us in a much broader evolutionary history.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook