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Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a…
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Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

by Nicholas A. Christakis

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982192,982 (4)1
For too long, scientists have focused on the dark side of our biological heritage: our capacity for aggression, cruelty, prejudice, and self-interest. But natural selection has given us a suite of beneficial social features, including our capacity for love, friendship, cooperation, and learning. Beneath all our inventions -- our tools, farms, machines, cities, nations -- we carry with us innate proclivities to make a good society. In Blueprint, Nicholas A. Christakis introduces the compelling idea that our genes affect not only our bodies and behaviors, but also the ways in which we make societies, ones that are surprisingly similar worldwide. With many vivid examples -- including diverse historical and contemporary cultures, communities formed in the wake of shipwrecks, commune dwellers seeking utopia, online groups thrown together by design or involving artificially intelligent bots, and even the tender and complex social arrangements of elephants and dolphins that so resemble our own -- Christakis shows that, despite a human history replete with violence, we cannot escape our social blueprint for goodness. In a world of increasing political and economic polarization, it's tempting to ignore the positive role of our evolutionary past. But by exploring the ancient roots of goodness in civilization, Blueprint shows that our genes have shaped societies for our welfare and that, in a feedback loop stretching back many thousands of years, societies have shaped, and are still shaping, our genes today.… (more)

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A universalist and cross-cultural account of friendship, love and social connections. One of the best books to be published in 2019 for its towering ambition and reach.
  Tom.Wilson | Oct 6, 2019 |
Well written, well documented description and analysis of what the author calls the social suite consisting of 8 elements: individual identity, love, friendship, social networks, cooperation, in- group bias, mild hierarchy, social learning and teaching. The contention is these are universal in human society and, therefore, genetic. Assuming these traits are universal, it seems inevitable that they are genetic unless you believe in the supernatural or some massive cultural convergence. However, I feel an additional trait is required: creative imagination which explains the wide range of diversity iand flexibility in the various cultures and the ability to form ideas that contrast what is with what might be or ought to be, and to actualize a subset of these ideas. Also, I think the analysis is overly optimistic in downplaying in- group bias and qualifying hierarchy with 'mild.' ( )
  bookboy804 | Aug 23, 2019 |
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