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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read
There is much to admire here. Frans De Waal has a wonderful written style. He tackles difficult issues in a calm and reassuring way. In short this book is a pleasure to read.

He makes many profoundly wise points too. He is surely correct to point out that the overly abrasive style of some atheist writers can detract from their message. And that the...
Published 16 months ago by M. D. Holley

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A wider view, rather hazy
I'd been impressed by Frans De Waal's earlier books about apes as such. In this one he tries to fit this into a wider context. But I don't think he succeeds.
Published 5 months ago by GwydionM


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read, 2 May 2013
By 
M. D. Holley (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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There is much to admire here. Frans De Waal has a wonderful written style. He tackles difficult issues in a calm and reassuring way. In short this book is a pleasure to read.

He makes many profoundly wise points too. He is surely correct to point out that the overly abrasive style of some atheist writers can detract from their message. And that the temptation of dogmatism should be resisted on all sides.

I was impressed with the way he accepts without debate or apology the fact that chimpanzees and bonobos are fully conscious, sentient beings just like humans - that there is a continuum between us. The examples he gives of morality, of self control and of restraint in these creatures are really eye opening.

Overall this book is highly recommended - certainly it is much superior to the other recent book about humanism - `the God Argument' by A C Grayling.

And yet, though I thoroughly enjoyed the journey, at the end I was slightly disappointed. Whilst the apes show great empathy, altruism, self restraint and so on, there are other aspects of their behaviour which we would deem immoral in the circumstances of our modern civilised world. These negative moral behaviours are present in humans too, and were adopted (along with the positive things) by the major religions and became fossilised therein. How should we best address the poor morals present in these religions, and the effect they have on society, while preserving the good parts? This is like the `elephant in the room' which De Waal steps around altogether. I wanted to hear De Waal's wisdom on this, but it never came. I would recommend Stephen Pinker's book `Better Angels of our Nature' to anyone interested in a constructive discussion of these issues.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful, 24 Sep 2013
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A fascinating insight into the socio-biological origins of emotions of solidarity and generosity and evidence of these emotions in other species. Recommended for any one interested in relations between humans and other animals and in the basic characteristics of human nature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this, 10 Mar 2014
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Every page is an insight into who we are and how we react to the world. Ten out of ten.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A wider view, rather hazy, 8 Mar 2014
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I'd been impressed by Frans De Waal's earlier books about apes as such. In this one he tries to fit this into a wider context. But I don't think he succeeds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great scientific observer, 4 Mar 2014
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Lot of books about behaviour and in particular animal behaviour that are written by "scientists". But having a university degree doesn't mean that person is a great scientist.
However, De Waal observes as no other (that I know of) !!
His reasoning is clean and simple.
No jumping to conclusions (and thus the wrong conclusions). Never cluttered by (typical human) emotions or knowledge that blurs the thue animal-reasoning. Great reading!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and interesting, 20 May 2014
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An enjoyable read that provided a different approach to religion and emphasising the deeper relationship between primates that is not usually understood.
Four stars because it was well written and made the reader want to think about religion and interdependency in a different way.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How did we become human and religious, 10 Sep 2013
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Jens Guld (Denmark) - See all my reviews
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Much has been written about how some apes became human. Much less has been written about how and why we became religious and why even casehardened atheists are nonetheles religious.
One of the messages in this book is that religion has Little to do with Abraham's God. Or with Buddhism for that matter.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday Present, 27 Aug 2013
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This book was bought as a birthday present, but I'm told the recipient (my son-in-law) thoroughly enjoyed it.It was also delivered on time
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