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The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We…

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of… (original 1994; edition 1995)

by Robert Wright

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1,420158,085 (4.03)30
Title:The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology
Authors:Robert Wright
Info:Vintage (1995), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Moral Animal : Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology by Robert Wright (1994)



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Although I am interested in the topic, I finally gave up about page 300 (out of about 380 pages of text.) Part of that is because he wasn't actually addressing quite the subject I had hoped from the title, and partly because I found the book a bit dull in the beginning, then very interesting, and finally dull again. He is just so wordy -- this really needed editing. Sometimes he seems to get caught up in an idea and writes it to death. I thought his section on men, women, and their different goals went on for much too long and became repetitious. It probably wasn't the best section to write so extensively on, because it seemed to me that entirely too much of it got beyond his research, and it is likely to alienate a lot of readers. The section that I bailed out in -- just how modest or self-serving was Charles Darwin -- seemed to go on and on without adding much more. I get the point -- how many times does Wright think he needs to repeat himself?

Wright sometimes references research, sometimes references his own hypotheses, and sometimes references "what we all know." I actually agree with him for many of the latter statements, but since we belong to the same culture, that doesn't mean anything.
  juglicerr | Apr 28, 2018 |
An excellent insightful book. Explains some of the complexity of the mind through evolution and how the combination of Reciprocal Altruism (tit for tat) and Social Hierarchy has led to our behaviour and understanding of morals. He uses Utilitarianism as a lens to look man behaviour and its compatibility with morality. A bit waffly towards the end, but, as I say, very insightful. ( )
  jvgravy | Feb 23, 2018 |
Keep me awake and thinking for days. ( )
  Steven_Burgauer | Oct 26, 2016 |
About the author, quoting from the inside of the book's cover: "Robert Wright is a senior editor at the "The New Republic" and is coauthor of its TRB column. He has also written for "The Atlantic Monthly," "The New Yorker," and "Time." He previously worked at "The Sciences" magazine, where his writings on science, technology, and philosophy won the National Magazine Award for Essay and Criticism. [He has also been] nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award." About the book, the reviewer for "Publishers Weekly," wrote, "The new field of evolutionary psychology--which seeks to explain human behavior, thought and emotions in terms of Darwinian evolution--finds its most articulate exponent in Robert Wright. In attempting to unravel the evolutionary logic behind friendship, romance, xenophobia, racism, sibling rivalry, and so forth, Wright leavens his presentation with wit and humor, interlacing a biographical profile of Charles Darwin, whose marriage, sex life, personal tragedies and travels in turns are thrust in a neo-Darwinian light. . .The most sophisticated in-depth exploration to date of the new Darwinian thinking."
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  uufnn | Feb 17, 2016 |
I was introduced to this book during a course on Buddhism and Modern Psychology. Wright covers a lot of ground in this well organized and tightly written book.

Wright doesn't hand down laws, saying "This is how it is," but rather leads with questions and tries to work out the answers based on Darwinian Natural Selection. This is not an easy task; so much is not available when examining the world from a purely materialistic point of view. When one is not allowed to give credit to supernatural, or even non-biological mental events, it really demands a serious and deep interrogation of the biological, chemical, and other physical causes of why people do the things they do. Wright uses several events from Darwin's life as examples, and in doing so makes both evolutionary psychology and Darwinian Natural Selection accessible to his readers.

If you're interested in morality, Darwin, evolutionary psychology, or why people do what they do, this is an excellent read.

If you're not interested in those topics, it's STILL and excellent read! I highly recommend it. ( )
1 vote homericgeek | Apr 19, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Wrightprimary authorall editionscalculated
Anderson, MarjorieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Béraud-Butche… AnneTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deutsch, AntoniaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thornton, GregNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Without thinking what he was doing, he took another drink of brandy. As the liquid touched his tougue he remembered his child, coming in out of the glare: the sullen unhappy knowledgeable face. He said, "oh God, help her. Damn me, I deserve it, but let her live for ever." This was the love he should have felt for every soul in the world: all the fear and the wish to save concentrated unjustly on the one child. He began to weep; it was as if he had to watch her from the shore drown slowly because he had forgotten how to swim. He thought: This is what I should feel all the time for everyone....
    —Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory
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Introduction: DARWIN AND US
The Origin of Species contains almost no mention of the human species.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679763996, Paperback)

An accessible introduction to the science of evolutionary psychology and how it explains many aspects of human nature. Unlike many books on the topic,which focus on abstractions like kin selection, this book focuses on Darwinian explanations of why we are the way we are--emotionally and morally. Wright deals particularly well with explaining the reasons for the stereotypical dynamics of the three big "S's:" sex, siblings, and society.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:24 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Darwin comes of age -- Male and female -- Men and women -- The marriage market -- Darwin's marriage -- The Darwin plan for marital bliss - - Families -- Darwin and the savages -- Friends -- Darwin's conscience -- Darwin's delay -- Social status -- Deception and self-deception -- Darwin's triumph -- Darwinian (and Freudian) cynicism -- Evolution ethics -- Blaming the victim -- Darwin gets religion.… (more)

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