The Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler

The Ghost in the Machine : The urge to self-destruction : a psychological and evolutionary study of modern man's predicament by Arthur Koestler

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New York : Macmillan, 1968. First American Edition. Hardcover. 384 pages ; 21 cm. $6.95 dust jacket unclipped. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.


With this important new work, Arthur Koestler completes a cycle that began with The Sleepwalkers and continued with The Act of Creation, two books concerned with scientific discovery and artistic inspiration, the glory of man's creativity. Now, in The Ghost in the Machine, he explores a darker aspect of human nature: the pathology of the human mind, notably man's predisposition toward self-destruction.

In Mr. Koestler's view, "the creativity and the pathology of the human mind are, after all, two sides of the same medal coined in the evolutionary mint. The first is responsible for the splendor of our cathedrals, the second for the gargoyles that decorate them to remind us that the world is full of monsters, devils, and succubi. They reflect the streak of insanity which runs through the history of our species, and which indicates that somewhere along the line of its ascent to prominence something has gone wrong."

This book is an attempt to determine the causes of that deficiency, that paranoic trend running through man's history which today, more than ever, threatens his very survival. It is inevitable that in our time the problem of man's self-destructive pre-disposition should be formulated in the language of science. But Mr. Koestler contends that the modern sciences of life, from evolutionary genetics to experimental psychology, have become so dizzy with their own successes that they have forgotten to ask the pertinent questions relative to man's true predicament.

Here in a penetrating critique of the orthodox theories of evolution and psychology, and in an attempt to sort out and weave together the significant ideas of nonconformist movements on the fringes of these orthodoxies, Mr. Koestler achieves the beginning of a new coherent philosophy of human behavior which proposes an explanation of man's self-destructive urge.

His hypothesis, based on neurological evidence, suggests, in essence, that the explosive growth of the human brain resulted in a faulty coordination between ancient and recent brain structures, creating a pathological split between emotion and reason. His thesis on the nature of man's predicament, brilliantly reasoned, consummately stated in terms strictly relevant to the problems of our time, is certain to provoke controversy and debate for years to come.

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