The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior
Author: Elliott Sober,David Sloan Wilson
Publisher: Harvard University Press
In Unto Others philosopher Elliott Sober and biologist David Sloan Wilson demonstrate once and for all that unselfish behavior is in fact an important feature of both biological and human nature. Their book provides a panoramic view of altruism throughout the animal kingdom - from self-sacrificing parasites to insects that subsume themselves in the superorganism of a colony to the human capacity for selflessness - even as it explains the evolutionary sense of such behavior. Sober and Wilson offer a detailed case study of scientific change as well as an indisputable argument for group selection as a legitimate theory in evolutionary biology.
"Unlike any other study in its field, The Altruistic Brain synthesizes into one theory the most important research into how and why - by purely physical mechanisms - humans empathize with one another and respond altruistically."--Book jacket.
How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives
Author: David Sloan Wilson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
What is the biological reason for gossip? For laughter? For the creation of art? Why do dogs have curly tails? What can microbes tell us about morality? These and many other questions are tackled by renowned evolutionist David Sloan Wilson in this witty and groundbreaking new book. With stories that entertain as much as they inform, Wilson outlines the basic principles of evolution and shows how, properly understood, they can illuminate the length and breadth of creation, from the origin of life to the nature of religion. Now everyone can move beyond the sterile debates about creationism and intelligent design to share Darwin’s panoramic view of animal and human life, seamlessly connected to each other. Evolution, as Wilson explains, is not just about dinosaurs and human origins, but about why all species behave as they do—from beetles that devour their own young, to bees that function as a collective brain, to dogs that are smarter in some respects than our closest ape relatives. And basic evolutionary principles are also the foundation for humanity’s capacity for symbolic thought, culture, and morality. In example after example, Wilson sheds new light on Darwin’s grand theory and how it can be applied to daily life. By turns thoughtful, provocative, and daringly funny, Evolution for Everyone addresses some of the deepest philosophical and social issues of this or any age. In helping us come to a deeper understanding of human beings and our place in the world, it might also help us to improve that world. From the Hardcover edition.
One of the great intellectual battles of modern times is between evolution and religion. Until now, they have been considered completely irreconcilable theories of origin and existence. David Sloan Wilson's Darwin's Cathedral takes the radical step of joining the two, in the process proposing an evolutionary theory of religion that shakes both evolutionary biology and social theory at their foundations. The key, argues Wilson, is to think of society as an organism, an old idea that has received new life based on recent developments in evolutionary biology. If society is an organism, can we then think of morality and religion as biologically and culturally evolved adaptations that enable human groups to function as single units rather than mere collections of individuals? Wilson brings a variety of evidence to bear on this question, from both the biological and social sciences. From Calvinism in sixteenth-century Geneva to Balinese water temples, from hunter-gatherer societies to urban America, Wilson demonstrates how religions have enabled people to achieve by collective action what they never could do alone. He also includes a chapter considering forgiveness from an evolutionary perspective and concludes by discussing how all social organizations, including science, could benefit by incorporating elements of religion. Religious believers often compare their communities to single organisms and even to insect colonies. Astoundingly, Wilson shows that they might be literally correct. Intended for any educated reader, Darwin's Cathedral will change forever the way we view the relations among evolution, religion, and human society.
Why efforts to create a scientific basis of morality are doomed to fail In this illuminating book, James Davison Hunter and Paul Nedelisky recount the centuries-long, passionate quest to discover a scientific foundation for morality. The "new moral science" led by such figures as E.O. Wilson, Patricia Churchland and Joshua Greene is only the newest manifestation of an effort that has failed repeatedly. Though claims for its accomplishments are often wildly exaggerated, this new iteration has been no more successful than its predecessors. Hunter and Nedelisky argue that in the end, science cannot tell us how we should live or why we should be good and not evil, and this is for both philosophical and scientific reasons. In the face of this failure, the new moral science has taken a surprising turn. Whereas earlier efforts sought to demonstrate what is right and wrong, the new moral scientists have concluded that right and wrong, because they are not amenable to scientific study, don't actually exist. Their (perhaps unwitting) moral nihilism turns the science of morality into a social engineering project. If there is nothing moral for science to discover, the science of morality becomes, at best, a program to achieve arbitrary societal goals. Concise and rigorously argued, Science and the Good is a major critique of a would-be science that has gained too much influence in today's public discourse, and an exposé of that project's darker turn.
Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time
Author: David Sloan Wilson
Publisher: Little, Brown
After decades studying creatures great and small, evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson had an epiphany: Darwin's theory won't fully prove itself until it improves the quality of human life in a practical sense. And what better place to begin than his hometown of Binghamton, New York? Making a difference in his own city would provide a model for cities everywhere, which have become the habitat for over half of the people on earth. Inspired to become an agent of change, Wilson descended on Binghamton with a scientist's eye and looked at its toughest questions, such as how to empower neighborhoods and how best to teach our children. He combined the latest research methods from experimental economics with studies of holiday decorations and garage sales. Drawing upon examples from nature as diverse as water striders, wasps, and crows, Wilson's scientific odyssey took him around the world, from a cave in southern Africa that preserved the dawn of human culture to the Vatican in Rome. Along the way, he spoke with dozens of fellow scientists, whose stories he relates along with his own. Wilson's remarkable findings help us to understand how we must become wise managers of evolutionary processes to accomplish positive change at all scales, from effective therapies for individuals, to empowering neighborhoods, to regulating the worldwide economy. With an ambitious scope that spans biology, sociology, religion, and economics, The Neighborhood Project is a memoir, a practical handbook for improving the quality of life, and an exploration of the big questions long pondered by religious sages, philosophers, and storytellers. Approaching the same questions from an evolutionary perspective shows, as never before, how places define us.
Pathological Altruism is a groundbreaking new book - the first to explore the negative aspects of altruism and empathy, seemingly uniformly positive traits. In fact, pathological altruism, in the form of an unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one's own needs, may underpin some personality disorders. Hyperempathy - an excess of concern for what others think and how they feel - helps explain popular but poorly defined concepts such as codependency. The contributing authors of this book provide a scientific, social, and cultural foundation for the subject of pathological altruism, creating a new field of inquiry. Each author's approach points to one disturbing truth: what we value so much, the altruistic "good" side of human nature, can also have a dark side that we ignore at our peril.
What does it means to be human? What is the origin of religious beliefs? Why are we moral creatures? Are religious experiences different from our everyday experiences? Is my brain involved in my experiencing God? What is a soul and do I have one? Is religion a result of evolutionary processes? How might psychology and religion relate? Religious experiences (behaviors, thoughts, and emotions) are determined, at least in part, by natural physical processes. As a result, the empirical methods used in psychology to try to identify the natural mechanisms that influence why we act, think, and feel the way we do can provide important insights into the fundamental and universal phenomena of religion. Drawing on current research from a variety of disciplines, Questions in the Psychology of Religion is appropriate for college students studying psychology, pastors as they help their congregations understand how religion and science might go together, and anyone who learns about recent discoveries in psychological science and wonders how these findings pertain to religion and religious experiences.
Sociobiology, Altruism and the Quest for Wesleyan Perfection
Author: Matthew Nelson Hill
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Theology needs to engage what recent developments in the study of evolution mean for how we understand moral behavior. How does the theological concept of holiness connect to contemporary understandings of evolution? If genetic explanations of altruism fall short, what role should we give to environmental explanations and free will? Likewise, how do genetic explanations relate to theological accounts of human goodness and holiness? In this groundbreaking work, Matthew Hill uses the lens of Wesleyan ethics to offer a fresh assessment of the intersection of evolution and theology. He shows that what is at stake in this conversation is not only the future of the church but also the fine-tuning of human evolution.
Violent behavior has become deeply integrated into modern society and it is an unavoidable aspect of human nature. Examining peacemaking strategies through a critical and academic perspective can assist in resolving violence in societies around the world. The Handbook of Research on Examining Global Peacemaking in the Digital Age is a pivotal reference source for the latest research findings on the utilization of peacemaking in media, leadership, and religion. Featuring extensive coverage on relevant areas such as human rights, spirituality, and the Summer of Peace, this publication is an ideal resource for policymakers, universities and colleges, graduate-level students, and organizations seeking current research on the application of conflict resolution and international negotiation.
In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins crystallized the gene's eye view of evolution developed by W.D. Hamilton and others. The book provoked widespread and heated debate. Written in part as a response, The Extended Phenotype gave a deeper clarification of the central concept of the gene as theunit of selection; but it did much more besides. In it, Dawkins extended the gene's eye view to argue that the genes that sit within an organism have an influence that reaches out beyond the visible traits in that body - the phenotype - to the wider environment, which can include other individuals.So, for instance, the genes of the beaver drive it to gather twigs to produce the substantial physical structure of a dam; and the genes of the cuckoo chick produce effects that manipulate the behaviour of the host bird, making it nurture the intruder as one of its own. This notion of the extendedphenotype has proved to be highly influential in the way we understand evolution and the natural world. It represents a key scientific contribution to evolutionary biology, and it continues to play an important role in research in the life sciences.The Extended Phenotype is a conceptually deep book that forms important reading for biologists and students. But Dawkins' clear exposition is accessible to all who are prepared to put in a little effort.Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.
Author: Nancy Ellen Abrams,Primack, Joel R. Primack
Publisher: Yale University Press
"Most people assume either that Earth was created as-is a few thousand years ago, or else that it's a lonely rock in endless space--although both assumptions are wrong. Meanwhile, global problems like climate destabilization, economic chaos, religious-justified violence, and exhaustion of planetary resources are escalating. These facts are connected. The new universe picture described in this book provides a believable new origin story and cosmic context, which help us to think for the first time on large enough time and size scales to see how to keep Earth and the human species healthy long into the future"--
New York Times Bestseller A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become? Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.
Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
Author: Jonathan Haidt
Presents a groundbreaking investigation into the origins of morality at the core of religion and politics, offering scholarly insight into the motivations behind cultural clashes that are polarizing America.
Your Secret Guide to Ending the Stress of School and Totally Ruling the World
Author: Hunter Maats,Katie O'Brien
Publisher: 368 Press
What if the only reason you aren't doing well in school is that you've been lied to about your own brain? For centuries, students worldwide have been tricked into making school more difficult, more stressful, and less successful than it needs to be. In reality, you already have the ability to make anything that you do in school easy. From writing essays to mastering any math concept to acing even your most difficult final exam, The Straight-A Conspiracy takes you through the simple, stress-free ways to conquer any class in school. The truth about straight-A's has been kept from you. It's time you knew about The Straight-A Conspiracy.
The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World
Author: Matthieu Ricard
Publisher: Little, Brown
The author of the international bestseller Happiness makes a passionate case for altruism--and why we need it now more than ever. In Happiness, Matthieu Ricard demonstrated that true happiness is not tied to fleeting moments or sensations, but is an enduring state of soul rooted in mindfulness and compassion for others. Now he turns his lens from the personal to the global, with a rousing argument that altruism--genuine concern for the well-being of others--could be the saving grace of the 21st century. It is, he believes, the vital thread that can answer the main challenges of our time: the economy in the short term, life satisfaction in the mid-term, and environment in the long term. Ricard's message has been taken up by major economists and thinkers, including Dennis Snower, Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz, and George Soros. Matthieu Ricard makes a robust and passionate case for cultivating altruistic love and compassion as the best means for simultaneously benefitting ourselves and our society. It's a fresh outlook on an ardent struggle--and one that just might make the world a better place.
The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy
Author: Linsey McGoey
Publisher: Verso Books
Category: Social Science
Philanthro-capitalism: How charity became big business The charitable sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the global economy. Nearly half of the more than 85,000 private foundations in the United States have come into being since the year 2000. Just under 5,000 more were established in 2011 alone. This deluge of philanthropy has helped create a world where billionaires wield more power over education policy, global agriculture, and global health than ever before. In No Such Thing as a Free Gift, author and academic Linsey McGoey puts this new golden age of philanthropy under the microscope—paying particular attention to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As large charitable organizations replace governments as the providers of social welfare, their largesse becomes suspect. The businesses fronting the money often create the very economic instability and inequality the foundations are purported to solve. We are entering an age when the ideals of social justice are dependent on the strained rectitude and questionable generosity of the mega-rich.