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The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History Paperback – 13 Mar 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (13 Mar 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871136643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871136640
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"A philosophical look at the history of our species which alternated between fascinating and frightening. Reading it was like reading Dean Koontz or Stephen King: I couldn't put it down . . . . Masterful." --Mark Graham, "The Rocky Mountain News" ""The Lucifer Principle" is a long step forward to understand human biology. Its original assessment is brilliant; its historical facts are unassailable . . . . An outstanding book." --Dr. Richard Bergland, M.D., founder of the Department of Neurology, Sloan-Kettering, and author of "The Fabric of the Mind" "A revolutionary vision of the relationship between psychology and history, "The Lucifer Principle" will have a profound impact on our concepts of human nature. It is astonishing that a book of such importance could be such a pleasure to read." --Elizabeth F. Loftus, author of "Mindfulness" "Destined to be the "Future Shock"of our time." -"Spin" ""The Lucifer Principle" is a tour de force, a brilliant and seminal work." -Sol Gordon, Ph.D., founder of the Institute for Family Research and Education "An act of astonishing intellectual courage." -Leon Uris "Readers will be mesmerized by the mirror Bloom holds to the human condition . . . . his style is engaging, witty, and brisk . . . . He draws on a dozen years of research into a jungle of scholarly fields . . . and meticulously supports every bit of information." --"The Washington Post" "A revolutionary vision of the relationship between psychology and history, The Lucifer Principle will have a profound impact on our concepts of human nature. It is astonishing that a book of such importance could be such a pleasure to read." --Elizabeth F. Loftus, Professor of Psychology, University of Washington, and author of "Memory and Eyewitness Testimony" ""The Lucifer Principle" is the Bible of anyone who wants to know what in the hell is going on. . . . "This book tells our story." It is the blueprint of our past and thei

From the Publisher

Covering the entire span of the Earth's as well as mankind's history, this ambitious and revolutionary book explores the intricate relationship between evolution, emotion, genes, and culture to put forth the thesis that "evil" is a by-product of nature's strategies for creation. The Lucifer Principle probes depression and elation, idealism and greed, revealing the surprising ways in which evolution has implanted her tactics in our bodies, minds, and in our mass psychology.

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In 1580, Michel de Montaigne, inspired by the discovery of New World tribes untouched by Europe's latest complexities, initiated the idea of the "noble savage " Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "ajf93" on 23 Aug 2003
Format: Paperback
I can't think of a great many books that have truly changed the way I view and think about the world (Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn being the only other one that springs to mind right now), but this is certainly one of them. In it, Bloom theorises that we all compose the individual components of national social superorganisms, and uses historic examples and scientific evidence to show how these superorganisms are knitted together by a combination of in-built, animalistic, biological urges and the influence of over-riding, virulent ideologies (or 'memes'). He goes on to explain how and why Mother Nature pits us against ourselves and forces us to abide by a 'pecking order', and what happens to those on the various strata. But, he postulates, just as the human body kills over 200 billion red blood cells per day in order to live and progress, so violence, war and evil has been built into each of us as a means by which the indivudual superorganisms can shed the components that no longer serve a purpose within it, so that it may evolve and live better in the future. Bloom ends the book on a positive note by theorising that (though it often seems otherwise) we are today as a race, through the sacrifices of the past, moving closer together and progressing towards a place in which the human race will come together as one superorganism. He also stresses that, if we are to survive as a species, we must learn to overcome, circumnavigate, or maybe 'cure' the animalistic part of our brain that drives us towards violence against one another.
That said, the above explanation really doesn't do the book justice; there is much more to it than that which I've attempted to lay out above, and I found the whole thing to be a completely fascinating read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Wood on 22 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback
This book promises to be a groundbreaking exploration into gestalts and the nature of the 'superorganism'.

And it is; the first 5 chapters are like a revelation, you feel as though youre being ushered into a new world of enlightenment, and by the first 100 pages or so youve left the now rather backward seeming 'modern' world behind and are part of the new intellectual elite.

However as is the problem with books that rely on a simple idea, the book quickly runs out of steam at the half way mark and begins to over-rely on the anecdotal rather than the empirical.

Its a shame because in the first half there's some very strong empirical evidence for his central idea in group selection theory. But he simply doesnt pursue it enough and ends up relying instead on recounting lengthly episodes of world history.

Not that this isnt enjoyable, my general knowledge of history is shaky at best so this book felt like a refresher course in the numerous ancient civilisations that have reined.

The problem is though that youve probaly heard it all before, the same goes for alot of the animal behaviour/psychology experiments that are scattered throughout the book as well. Alot of the evidence used is really common knowledge that you could probably find in a modestly stocked local library.

This is a disapointment as given the size of the bibliography i was expecting Bloom to draw on some incredibly esoteric and interesting sources. Not that he doesnt - he does, but very very rarely.

I understand though that this is a book intended to appeal to the casual reader so i am prehaps being alittle too harsh, and have maybe allowed my expectations to get the better of me here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Wood on 25 Mar 2008
Format: Paperback
Don't let the weird title "The Lucifer Principle" put you off. This book is full of fascinating facts, covering many eras of human history, anthropology and (even more fascinatingly) animal behaviour, that shed light on human characteristics. The notes section alone covers 70 pages, in small print, and is full of jumping-off points for further reading.

The basic principle is that human instincts to anger, violence, depression, sabotage, etc - the instincts which some religions try to explain as being due to a devil or a Fall of Man, and which some modern philosophies try to blame on capitalism or western imperialism (etc) - arise much deeper in the workings of nature. These hugely destructive instincts are present because they propel progress - allowing individuals or groups to rise higher up the pecking order in whatever society they exist.

The book has a strong emphasis on looking at groups, rather than just individuals, as the basis for selection and survival. Another word for this in the book is "superorganism". Individual behaviours that initially seem baffling - eg a tendency to suicide - suddenly make more sense from the group point of view. Within human socieity, groups are organised by memes, with religion being one of the key examples.

Because of the astonishing scope of the book, it's easy to nit-pick here and there. But weighing everything up, it's hard to deny the main claims of this book - the evidence it gathers is so extensive and persuasively argued. Anyone who still hankers any illusion about "Gentle Mother Nature" or "Nature Knows Best" should read this book. Likewise for anyone who takes a benign view on religious influence. It's up to us who read it and understand it to take the steps to prise mankind out of our deeply embedded but flawed natural characteristics. There are some hints in the final chapters about how this could happen, but that's the weakest part of the book.
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