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humanly possible a biologists notes on the future of mankind by jean rostand translated by lowell bair

Humanly Possible : A Biologist's Notes on the Future of Mankind by Jean Rostand ; Translated by Lowell Bair


New York : Saturday Review Press, 1973. First American Edition. Stated. Hardcover. 182 pages ; 22 cm. $6.95 dust jacket with minimal wear. Lite foxing to front and rear endpapers and side pages edge as well. No markings within pages. Binding firm.

by Jean Rostand
Translated by Lowell Bair

The greatest scientists have also been humanists. In this entertaining and thought-provoking-ing collection of essays, the eminent French biologist and philosopher Jean Rostand has assembled some of his thoughts on man's connection to the changing world around him.

Addressing himself to the subject of the uniqueness of the individual, he moves from a discussion of man's chromosomal development and the chemical makeup of his cells to the broader issues involved in changing nature by means of transplants, skin grafts, hormonal treatments, and other twentieth-century scientific developments that can drastically alter a human being.

It is Rostand's passionate conviction that man must strive to retain his individuality in spite of technology. Now, when faced with the awesome prospect that scientists may soon be able to reproduce the human being in a test tube, man must take extra measures to preserve himself from depersonalization.

Many people turn to Rostand for advice, and he shares with the reader a number of the fascinating letters a prominent biologist receives. He is asked to decide if intermarriage between cousins is advisable, whether euthanasia should be considered for incurably ill relatives, if brain transplants will ever be possible. There are humorous queries as well: How can you tell the sex of a cockroach? asks one correspondent. Can a young monkey be taught to bowl? Is there a cure for constipation in turtles?

Concerned above all with the human potentials of mankind and the prospects of future generations, the famous biologist questions the very definition of "human." Is a dolphin who can communicate with man less human than a brain-damaged child? When should a fetus be considered too human to be aborted? Should a man who has committed murder be deprived of his humanity and killed like a harmful animal?

Rostand always answers on the side of life. His ideal for mankind is "to be enriched by others without being emptied of oneself, to achieve harmony without conformity, Concord without unison."

About the Author
Born in Paris in 1894, Jean Rostand received his education at the Sorbonne. He has enjoyed world renown and received numerous awards and prizes for biological research and experimentation in many areas, including parthenogenesis, malformation in growth and structure of organisms, amphibian genetics (particularly tadpole and frog development), and cryogenics.

A member of the French Academy, he has written more than three dozen scientific books and has translated books by other scientists into French. He is also the author of sixteen short books on life and philosophy.

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