Every so often the world of ideas is shaken by what the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn famously dubbed a "paradigm shift." As Robert Wright shows in this pathbreaking book, such a shift is occurring now - one that will change the way people see their lives and the way they choose to live their lives.
From the work of evolutionary biologists and of scholars all across the social sciences, a new science called evolutionary psychology is emerging, and with it a radically revised view of human nature and the human mind. In its light, the oldest and most basic questions look different and wholly new questions arise. Are men and women really built for monogamy? What kinds of self-deception are favored by evolution, and why? How and why do childhood experiences make a person more or less conscientious? What is the evolutionary logic behind office politics - or politics in general? Why is there a love-hate relationship between siblings? When, if ever, is love truly pure? Is the human sense of justice - and of just retribution - innate? Does it truly serve justice?
This lucidly written book is set in a fitting context: the life and work of Charles Darwin. Wright not only shows which of Darwin's ideas about human nature have survived the test of time, he retells - from the perspective of evolutionary psychology - the stories of Darwin's marriage, his family life, and his career ascent. All three look as they have never looked before. The Moral Animal challenges us to see ourselves, for better or worse, under the clarifying lens of evolutionary psychology. Wright argues powerfully that, though many of our "moral sentiments" have a deep biological basis, so does our tendency to fool ourselves about our goodness. If we want to live a truly moral life, we must first understand what kind of animal we are.… (more)