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The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society Hardcover – 1 Oct 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd (1 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285638904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285638907
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

An important and timely message about the biological roots of human kindness. --Desmond Morris

Animals are a profound source of comfort about the human condition... He offers a plethora of examples to show that empathy, kindness and caring are as natural as violence and rivalry... De Waal s writing is appropriately warm, engaging and empathetic... as de Waal affirms, the more we learn about nature, the more richly we're able to imagine a better society. --The Independent

De Waal wants to show that sociability and kindness are just as hardwired and biologically ancient... Fellow-feeling is observed throughout the book in apes, monkeys, rats, dolphins, and even fish. --Guardian

About the Author

Frans de Waal is a Dutch-born biologist and one of the world s most respected primatologists. In 2007 Time magazine selected him as one of the World s 100 most influential people.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David Hillstrom on 20 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Frans de Waal has produced another excellent book with `The Age of Empathy.' He thus continues to produce breakthrough insights that began with his classic book, Chimpanzee Politics. In this book he examines the phenomenon of empathy from an evolutionary perspective. He does so by drawing upon a wealth of data from biological observations and experiments that includes primates of course but numerous other species as well. The evidence and the story that he develops are both interesting and revealing. And the story builds a strong case to support the thesis that even `advanced' emotional and mental processes such as empathy are not unique to humans, but have observable antecedents among numerous other species within the animal kingdom. His thesis follows and enriches the tradition begun by biologist Donald Griffin in his book, Animal Thinking. His thesis also ties in comfortably with the arguments presented by Daniel Dennett in his book, Freedom Evolves.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the description of similarities between the behaviour of children and primates. Experiments with monkeys and chimpanzees display amazingly parallel behavioural tendencies with that of human infants. The dominant theme is a shared aversion to perceived injustice. This finding is consistent with the field of evolutionary psychology of course. But reading de Waal's book is both exciting and instructive of how very deep some of our emotional roots lie within evolutionary history.

The author draws a number of political conclusions from the evidence he presents. His conclusions are consistent with a humanist philosophy. While I personally am able to relate to the conclusions, I have to admit that the ideas are only partially developed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. De Meyer on 24 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Another tour de force for Frans De Waal. Whereas his previous book, "Our Inner Ape", focused on the duplicity of human nature by positioning the human species in between the violence and power-plays of the chimpanzees on the one hand and the good-naturedness and sexuality of the bonobos on the other, this book is all about what makes us, and our closest animal relatives, "good". It contains the latest results of empirical studies, mainly on captive animals, and observational studies on captive and wild animals - primates, but also monkeys, dolphins, whales and elephants. It doesn't eschew the occasional annecdote, which will anger some people, but didn't bother me. A truly fascinating read! For greatest impact, best read in conjunction with his other book Our Inner Ape: The Best and Worst of Human Nature and with Mark Bekkof'sWild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals and The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy and Why They Matter
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By readaholic on 26 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book confirms what many of us feel we know. that many animals are not dumb beasts in any sense of the word.
A highly readable,informative, enlightening and intelligent book which looks in detail at animal behaviours over many years, considers much relevant research, and makes us consider again, that we are not the only species which experiences empathy. Also. anyone reading this cannot continue to believe that animal welfare, whether in zoos , theme parks or our intensive or non organic farms, is not paramount, as all living creatures to some degree have awarenesses of other animals hitherto unesplained. Essential reading for these times , where a little more empathy for our fellows would not be a bad thing.Finally, we have to oomprehend that we have inherited our capacity for empathy as part of our evolution, as empathy pays, in the survival game.
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