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The Brighter Side Of Human Nature: Altruism And Empathy In Everyday Life Paperback – 21 May 1992


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Consider this curious set of facts about our culture: Someone who thinks well of himself is said to have a healthy self-concept and is envied. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Yes, Virginia, altruism does exist. 3 Jun 1998
By Word Wrangler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I find all of Alfie Kohn's books to be thoughtfully, lucidly, and gracefully written; and this one is no exception. He deals here with an important philosophical question--which also has practical ramifications--in a way that makes it both instructive and entertaining. A shot in the arm for those of us who are more and more depressed by the seemingly endless stream of atrocities reported each evening on the news--a non-pollyanna-ish ray of hope!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Kohn presents much of value... 11 Mar 2009
By Ronald F. Colby - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Brighter Side of Human Nature, Altruism & Empathy in Everyday Life.
His work rigorously explores the question of the basic nature of the human animal. Beginning with an assessment of the rational behind our Western world's tacit, when not explicit, acceptance of the notion that man is a selfish, wholly self-serving, being, Kohn explores numerous disciplines including: biology, sociology, socio-biology, economics, psychology, social psychology, anthropology, history and philosophy, considering the many diverse contributors to our "widespread belief that our darker side is more pervasive, more persistent, and somehow more real than our other facets." (p 4) Interestingly, he notes: "From the traditionally opposed quarters of religion and science, then, we receive instruction on our innate wickedness." (p 42) While acknowledging the historically obvious and inescapable fact of man's (and woman's) brutality, violence, and destructiveness, Kohn goes on to present substantial, significant and wide ranging evidence and arguments from the above mentioned academic disciplines which taken together strongly support the contention that man is equally, if indeed, not more, disposed to other-centered/positive behavior - what he describes as "prosocial" behavior. In the end, Kohn leaves the question of what is human nature unanswered, appropriately so I think as its answer, ultimately, seems to rely on faith. This notwithstanding, he does present a compelling well reasoned comprehensive argument for the consideration, also, of humanity's innate goodness. Although I am still wrestling with this issue it seems to me that, aside from deeply engrained religious considerations, it is perfectly reasonable and possibly more accurate and/or truthful, to view man as basically a good being that occasionally does bad rather than a bad being that occasionally does good. The implications of this ostensibly minor distinction are in fact major and I will address them shortly.
In addition to the nature of human nature question which was my primary focus, Kohn presents much of value regarding the relative benefits of cooperation verses competition, particularly within the context of education; and he devotes considerable time in the closing chapter of his book effectively and forcefully arguing for the acknowledgement and acceptance of "us" as opposed to "I", that is, that we are all intrinsically related and inter-dependent and that life and even the self doesn't't make sense, is unfulfilling and meaningless outside of the context of human relationships.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
alfie kohn is right on 7 Nov 2013
By happy mommy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i love the concept of positive intent as opposed to the cynical. this book made me feel hopeful. his thinking is so right on. the how and the putting it into action is the hard part.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Brighter Side of Human Nature 26 Oct 2013
By Selwyn Super - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is refreshing to reread Alfie Kohn's book and to recognize how more relevant it has become in a world that continues to be war torn and full of strife and misery. His work cries out for a paradigm change in human behavior, where altruism and empathy (right brain's functions) win over domineering left brain aggression and assertiveness..
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Brighter Side 12 Jun 2011
By dond - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alfie Kohn is not only bright and informed, but is changing my mind about human nature. My hat is off to him.
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