Lidl-pl The Moral Animal Why We Are, the Way We Are The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology:Lidl-pl
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The Moral Animal Why We Are, the Way We Are The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology:Lidl-pl

Robert Wright
Robert Wright Published in October 22, 2018, 11:19 pm
 The Moral Animal Why We Are, the Way We Are The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology:Lidl-pl

The Moral Animal Why We Are, the Way We Are The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology:Lidl-pl


silverfawkes Reply to on 7 May 2012
The book is good when it sticks to a summary of the new discipline of evolutionary psychology. The summary and explanation of why group selection is not a valid theory is excellent. But when he strays into a polemic in favour of Victorian morality he is partial and argues by assertion rather than with scientific neutrality. His attempts to provide a psychological analysis of Darwin's character and life are clumsy and spoil the book.
I have come to tolerate badly edited free books from Amazon but having paid good money I feel the lack of even s simple spell check makes this a serious condemnation of Amazon abusing its partial monopoly of e-books. I give it 3 stars as an average of 4 stars for content and zero for bad presentation and editing

Luc Meritan
Luc Meritan Reply to on 25 March 2015
Great book. Impossible to put down. Very well research and astonishingly impartial, it never takes one side without strong evidence backing it up. It connects in places with what you read in other books and in some other places, it helps you refine what really can be inferred on our human nature. For example, while books like C Ryan's Sex at Dawn point towards a polygamous nature of the hunter gatherer. R Wright will clarify that polygamy is allowed in most tribes living close to the hunter gatherer lifestyle referencing mostly the same sources. Being allowed in certain conditions and being the norm is a big difference. he paragraph "winners and losers" in the marriage section for example will explain the benefits of socially institutionalized monogamy for social stability (society is less stable when you have too many males unable to attain reproductive success). It seems Richard Wright conclusions jump a bit less than other writers in the field. And it's quite nice that way. The rest on Darwin's life is great too. Overall, a must read book for those interested in evolutionary psychology.
Alan Williams
Alan Williams Reply to on 22 March 2013
As the author admits he is selling the new Darwinian science of psychological evolution. But you don't need to sell true science, just explain it. So take his theories with a pinch of salt. And yet so much of it rings true and it will challenge your assumptions on the way you live your life and why. Annoying at times it is still an enjoyable and important book, one I think I will be revisiting many times in the future.
E. Mills
E. Mills Reply to on 17 June 2018
Duncan Reply to on 7 September 2013
Every so often I'd have to put the book down midway through a paragraph or chapter, just to mull over what I'd just read as it has the effect to change your understanding of everything you've come to think you already know. Often quite dense and slow to read in parts, but wholly worth the struggle.
Terry Reply to on 7 September 2013
This is a good explanation about people and why we are what we are I would recommend it to thinkers ,those who are interested in why people do the things they do and say the things they say,it explains a lot .
Mark Freiter
Mark Freiter Reply to on 20 November 2017
all good
Sphex Reply to on 30 August 2010
Human anatomy applies to all peoples of the world. Why should the anatomy of the mind be any different? Every living human has the same sort of heart. Every thinking, feeling, loving, caring, hating, judging, lusting person has the same sort of brain. Being vastly more complex, the brain has more scope for individual variation while remaining a functioning organ, but still there is a huge overlap between the brains of any two people on the planet, and so also between the behaviours those brains generate. Our everyday behaviour is rooted in a biology we all share, and evolutionary psychology is its scientific study. In this classic work, Robert Wright explores this new science and shows how it leads to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our social world.

We all have intuitive ideas about why we are the way we are: nationality, colour, parental influence, peer pressure, culture, and so on, all partly determine our identity. One fact beyond intuition, however, is the rather longer timescale over which evolution has shaped both our bodies and our brains. Just as the circumstances of a childhood can affect a whole life, so too does the ancestral environment we grew up in as a species continue to make itself felt. That it does so in ways which are largely hidden from conscious view only serves to point up the importance of evolutionary psychology. We should not make the mistake of comparing the sparsely populated open savannah with the bustling cities many of us now live in and concluding that our evolutionary history has no relevance. We are remarkably flexible in many ways, but we are most certainly not blank slates. Human nature is a collaborative project in which we are often the junior partners who cannot edit the words of long-dead senior scriptwriters.

There are many adaptations that have outlived their logic, but which still affect our behaviour. An example is the sweet tooth. "Our fondness for sweetness was designed for an environment in which fruit existed but candy didn't." (Any sensible person reading this will immediately provide their own scare quotes around that word "designed", as Wright himself does elsewhere. Natural selection works as if "it were consciously designing organisms" to behave in a certain way. There is no designer, of course, nor any plan or purpose.) We may want to be slim but natural selection "demands" that we cram in as many calories as we can to stave off the Malthusian extinction that was a constant threat to our ancestors.

Personal happiness is often taken to be a natural desire. Its pursuit has even been written into a political constitution. However, natural selection doesn't "want" us to be happy, it "wants" us to be genetically prolific, and those two goals are uncomfortable bedfellows. We are each under the hypnotic spell of a single truth: "My hereditary material is the most important material on earth; its survival justifies your frustration, pain, even death." Fortunately for us lumbering collections of replicators, we share some of this precious material with others, so this bleak doctrine of the selfish gene is also capable of generating cooperative behaviour, such as reciprocal altruism. The simple strategy of tit for tat - "do unto others as they've done unto you" - models how this could have evolved.

Rigid behavioural responses have a limited usefulness, especially in a social environment that can change more rapidly than the physical one. People don't always repay kindness with kindness, but sometimes lie, cheat or steal - and prosper as a result. Remember, if you can get more of your genes into the next generation by behaving badly, that's what natural selection "wants" you to do. Those on the receiving end have other ideas, of course, as do their genes, and natural selection will "help" them too if they can come up with a way of reducing the payoff from lying, cheating and stealing, that is, if they can modify the social environment so that such behaviours are discouraged. Hence feelings like guilt evolved, perhaps first gaining a foothold through kin selection, which encourages us to look out for siblings and to feel bad if we don't.

A family of related individuals is part of a broader society, and both are held together by varying amounts of the various "ingredients of morality, from empathy to guilt". Evolutionary psychology explains "the adaptive value of a malleable conscience" and points to its "firm genetic basis". The seeming paradox of flexibility built on fixed genetic foundations can be dissolved by thinking of human nature as consisting "of knobs and of mechanisms for tuning the knobs", where the tuning depends on the particular social environment encountered.

Paradox is one thing, controversy another. Given the long struggle to achieve political and legal equality between men and women (rights still not recognized in some parts of the world), it's hardly surprising that some took umbrage at the idea that, for example, "male and female jealousy should differ". We all accept there are obvious physical differences between men and women, but there is also an equally obvious behavioural difference: while men "can reproduce hundreds of times a year, assuming they can persuade enough women to cooperate", women "can't reproduce more often than once a year". When it comes to maximizing their genetic legacy, men and women have different agendas, not as a result of culture or conditioning but because of "the scarceness of eggs relative to sperm". Much of human sexual psychology flows from this biological fact, including the Darwinian perils of cuckoldry for a man and desertion for a woman.

"The new Darwinian synthesis is, like quantum physics or molecular biology, a body of scientific theory and fact; but, unlike them, it is also a way of seeing everyday life." This is a source of excitement to some and anxiety to others. In intellectual terms, it is reassuring that Wright is quite happy to describe some elements of the theory as speculative, supported only by circumstantial evidence. In terms of social policy, we should not despair that human nature relies in part on largely fixed and selfish genes, because "the most radical differences among people are the ones most likely to be traceable to environment" - and this is something we can influence.

Religion has long monopolized ethics, with disastrous results. Even one small sect of one religion after five hundred years cannot decide whether women bishops are a good or a bad thing, and yet they still claim to provide moral leadership. The scientific study of our moral nature holds out far more hope, both in practical terms of informing policy but also as an awe-inspiring insight into the "deeper unity within the species". Perhaps most hopeful of all, and most surprising to find in a book of science, is one of Robert Wright's conclusions, "that the new paradigm will tend to lead the thinking person toward love and away from hate".
Hilary Reply to on 11 August 2012
An evolutionary approach to human nature. AT first I thought he was taking a rather limited and deterministic approach to the subject, with old conservative, pre-feminist theory that men and women have evolved for different roles and should therefore keep to their proper places, seemed to be the theme of the first few chapters. Things become more nuanced later on and he deliberately rebuts the 'naturalistic fallacy' but contrarily takes the view that 'nature' is amoral and we humans can take some (albeit rather limited) charge over our lives and decide what sort of future we have as a social species. It needs digesting, its not as simple as it at first appears and a lot of his theories are overly speculative but very thought-provoking. I am going to have to read it again and think hard about the implications.
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