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Quest: The Essence of Humanity



Quest: The Essence of Humanity

Charles Pasternak, Baruch Blumberg (Foreword by)

ISBN: 978-0-470-85144-9 July 2003 432 Pages


An intriguing work of history, philosophy, and popular science that explores the human desire to quest.

Scientists continually look for the genetic factors that make humans so very different in appearance and behaviour from most animals - the genes that are uniquely human. Respected biochemist and author Charles Pasternak argues that such genes do not exist. Instead, he suggests that it is our desire to quest - for food and shelter, for knowledge, for wealth, for adventure - coupled with our unique physical abilities to do so that have controlled our evolution and have led humans to develop away from closely related animals.

In this intriguing work of history, philosophy, and popular science, Pasternak uses his extensive biological knowledge to discuss man's nature and achievements, his genetic makeup, and his evolution.




1. Prologue.

Part I: Evolution: the genetic basis of quest.

2. Unity and diversity in living organisms.

3. Plants and microbes: the origin of vision.

4. Animals and man: development of human attributes.

Part II: Domination: the consequences of human quest.

5. Out of Africa: exploration and expansion.

6. The ladder: adversity and achievement.

7. Civilisation1: towns and temples.

8. Civilisation 2: communication and culture.

9. Technology: war and welfare

10. Religion: belief and dogma.

11. Science: explanation and experimentation.

Part III: Controversy: current quest.

12. Tinkering with genes1: GM foods.

13. Tinkering with genes 2: GM people.

14. Extinction or survival of Homo quaerens?

15. Epilogue.




"…I can recommend Quest: The Essence of of the most thought-provoking books to come my way for some time…" (The Sunday Telegraph., 20 July 2003)

"…fluent, fast-moving…Quest is controversial…which all ambitious works like this one should be…" (New Scientist, 23 August 2003)

"…I really enjoyed this book…What impressed me throughout was Parsternak’s use of science…" (M2 Best Books, 7 December 2003)