Temptation and control are like two players in an arms race, displaying competition like that between predators and prey, parasites and hosts, and Americans and Russians during the Cold War. In this book, brilliant Harvard academic Marc Hauser evaluates recent developments in evolutionary biology, cognitive science, developmental psychology, ...
Temptation and control are like two players in an arms race, displaying competition like that between predators and prey, parasites and hosts, and Americans and Russians during the Cold War. In this book, brilliant Harvard academic Marc Hauser evaluates recent developments in evolutionary biology, cognitive science, developmental psychology, economics and anthropology to provide a new way of understanding the tension between temptation and control. In our own species, this battle is waged at multiple levels: among genes housed in the body, between different areas of an individual's brain, between individuals within a group or between different groups -- from small scale family feuds, to inter-tribal warfare, to coalitions among nations states. Drawing on the most up-to-date research and myriad cultural references from Shakespeare and Dostoevesky to Spielberg and the Coen brothers and Calvin and Hobbes, Hauser shows us the roots of cheating, greed, promiscuity and violence in an enthralling and important new work of popular science.
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Publishers Weekly, 2006-07-17 How do humans develop their capacity to make moral decisions? Harvard biologist Hauser (Wild Minds) struggles to answer this and other questions in a study that is by turns fascinating and dull. Drawing on the linguistic theories of Noam Chomsky, Hauser argues that humans have a universal moral grammar, an instinctive, unconscious tool kit for constructing moral systems. For example, although we might not be able to articulate immediately the moral principle underlying the ban on incest, our moral faculty instinctually declares that incest is disgusting and thus impermissible. Hauser's universal moral grammar builds on the 18th-century theories of moral sentiments devised by Adam Smith and others. Hauser also asserts that nurture is as important as nature: "our moral faculty is equipped with a universal set of rules, with each culture setting up particular exceptions to these rules." All societies accept the moral necessity of caring for infants, but Eskimos make the exception of permitting infanticide when resources are scarce. Readers unfamiliar with philosophy will be lost in Hauser's labyrinthine explanations of Kant, Hume and Rawls, and Hauser makes overly large claims for his theory's ability to guide us in making more moral, and more enforceable, laws. (Sept. 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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