Man: The Moral Animal


Robert Wright


Science, evolutionary psychology

Recommended by Eliezer Yudkowsky (see below).

Ratings, awards, mentions and recommendationsEdit

Yudkowsky's recommendationEdit

Books that changed my lifeEdit

Self-awareness is a wonderful thing. At its height, self-awareness alters every aspect of intelligence and personality. And self-awareness isn't just knowing how to think, it's knowing how to feel. If I understand my own emotions today, it's because I read this book.

The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology is about, you guessed it, evolutionary psychology - the origin of our-modern day emotions as the frozen strategies of survival and reproduction from the days of the hunter-gatherers.

Knowing what's in your mind, knowing exactly where it comes from and why, is the first step towards self-alteration. This book gives the lie to the late twentieth-century American stereotype that to be logical is to lose the ability to understand your own emotions. Armed by the high quest of science, it's possible to attain a greater understanding of emotion than pop psychoanalysts or folk psychologists ever will.

Books of knowledgeEdit

Want to know thyself? Here's where you learn. Why do we eat sugar and salt and fat in an age when these things are no longer good for us? Because in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, they were scarce resources. Whence comes the stereotype that men care about sex and women care about love? Why does the male eye stray more easily than the female? Why are men the wooers and women the choosers? Because the male invests a night of effort to produce a baby, while a woman invests nine months; the optimum evolutionary strategy for the male is to sleep with everything in sight, while the optimum evolutionary strategy for the female is to be very choosy.

I suppose some people would think it depressing to see the puppet strings on which we all dangle, think that bad old science made the magic go away. But in my experience, like I said, seeing the puppet strings is the first step towards cutting them and getting on with your life.

Links and referencesEdit

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