- Hardcover: 409 pages
- Publisher: Darwin Press Inc (1 Sept. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0878501592
- ISBN-13: 978-0878501595
- Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 17.4 x 3.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,226,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Darwinian Happiness: Evolution as a Guide for Living and Understanding Human Behavior Hardcover – 1 Sep 2002
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To be a Stone Age creature in a Jet Age zoo tends to cause problems. The list of consequences are numerous -- from depression and suicide to obesity, drug use, insomnia, loneliness, violence, and wars -- to mention only a few of the 'diseases of civilisation'. Are we prisoners of an environment that is at odds with the way evolution has shaped us, and if so, can we do anything about it? Can we use our knowledge of human nature to offer people more appropriate conditions of living, and at the same time create a more peaceful world? The author is convinced that present insight into the nature of being human can help us make better choices. Our great feats of engineering, from building the pyramids to sending a man to the moon, have been the easy tasks; the real challenge in shaping the future of Planet Earth lies in dealing with human nature. We have the power to turn our planet into a living nightmare and a biological refuse dump, but it is also within our capacity to create conditions of living better than those we ever had.The principle of book is to offer a guide for living that not only benefits the individual -- and should thus be coveted -- but also works for the benefit of the society and our planet. Written for a general audience as well as for professionals interested particularly in evolutionary psychology, behavioural biology, socio-biology, and happiness studies.
Top Customer Reviews
Alternately looking at the hard evidence and musing or offering suggestions, Grinde considers human thoughts , emotions , and values; sex, violence, God, and beauty. His manner is that of a wise counsellor, promoting wellbeing, without proscription
A gentle, delightful read, which provides much to reflect on.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Happiness can be found by tuning in to the potential we all have for positive feelings. It does not require spending a lot of money and it is better served by being kind to people rather than being mean. As to the latter, the author points out that gregariousness and compassion give more joy than aggression.
Sociability evolved relatively late in our lineage at a time when features in the brain were added by coupling them with brain rewards in the form of positive feelings. Our aggressive tendencies, on the other hand, are evolutionarily-speaking very old and are, therefore, more instinctive and, to a less extent, coupled with positive sensations.
The book is entertaining and easy to read. It can be highly recommended. I truly wish this book had been required reading in my college psychology and sociology classes.
All in all the book does a very good job at explaining what it means to be human, why we have evolved a capacity to enjoy life in general, and things like art and music in particular. One recurring recommendation is that we should try to adapt the way we live to the way we are designed to live. By heeding this advice, we are likely to obtain better health both mentally and physically.
Above the entrance to the ancient Oracle of Delphi was written "know thyself". This book on Darwinian Happiness allows you to follow that advice. It is the best book on the biology of human behavior that I have read. I urge you to try it.
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