The Tuesday BooK: Nature, Nurture and Our Sense of Self ; Being Me: What It Means to Be Human Pete Moore John Wiley, Pounds 16.99

By Vines, Gail | The Independent (London, England), December 3, 2003 | Go to article overview
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The Tuesday BooK: Nature, Nurture and Our Sense of Self ; Being Me: What It Means to Be Human Pete Moore John Wiley, Pounds 16.99


Vines, Gail, The Independent (London, England)


WHO IS Pete Moore? Read Being Me and you won't be much the wiser. But you will get a whirlwind tour through the sheer variety of human preoccupations. To illustrate our multifaceted natures, Moore, a medical journalist, engagingly recounts "real-life" stories. If not quite biting the hand that feeds him, his mission is to demonstrate that science alone cannot explain what it is to be human.

In the first chapter, Moore interviews three people chosen to represent our status as "embodied beings": Arthur, a power-lifter whose life was wrecked by steroid addiction, and David and Eileen, who have both bravely coped with facial disfigurement. Anna, who woke from a coma to find she was conscious but unable to let anybody know, knows better than most the importance of qualifying as a "conscious being". Judy and Ann, two identical twins raised separately in a Welsh village, represent our "genetic being". Tellingly, they have grown up to be similar yet different. Finally, Moore tells of Christine, who was shocked to learn she was conceived via donated sperm and has waged a campaign for the right to know the identity of her biological father; she's a "related being".

Later chapters veer away from this successful formula, and differ markedly in tone. Two are enthusiastic profiles of the scientists David Barker and James Lovelock. Barker, who thinks our propensity to heart disease is largely determined in our mother's (or even grandmother's) womb, is the history man of this collection. Lovelock, author of the Gaia hypothesis, stands for humanity as "a material being".

By the time Moore gets to spirituality he has changed tack again, and opts for a potpourri based on conversations with Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Lebanese psychiatrist Majid Katme and the philosopher Mary Warnock.

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