College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
with a very interesting turn on Darwinian psychology/sociology. Haidt does a deft and often humorous job of translating current neo-Darwinian science of the mind into lay terms (though he is not as deft or humorous as Steven Pinker--whose books are better), and his metaphors for how the mind works and for how the mind works in a complex society are well crafted. I did have a couple of reservations: the first is his breezy treatment of drugs like Prozac and Paxil as treatment for "everyday" anxiety and depression (that is, problems not bad enough to be labelled "disorder" in correlation with the DSM-IV description)--despite a vast amount of evidence regarding what sometimes amount to devastating side effects, especially in children and young adults, and the incredible over-medication of our society at large, Haidt encourages use of such drugs for NOS anxiety and depression without reservation. Also, if you have read Pinker, Wright, Dawkins, Dennett, or many of the other current Darwinian psychologists, you are going to have encountered A LOT of this stuff before. When explaining Darwinian psychology and sociology, Haidt doesn't bring a lot of new stuff to the table--unless this is the first book on the topic that you have read. The same old examples, ants, bats, etc... But these are relatively minor complaints... the application of the Darwinian style of seeing the human mind in regard to happiness and the use of ancient wisdom to back up his points make this book well worth reading.
At the end of a premiere of one of Steve Martin's early films, a hostile critic approached him afterward and snapped, "it's not exactly Doestoyevski, is it?!" Martin retorted, "no, it wasn't meant to be..." And so it would be just as unfair to accuse Gallagher's straightforward little book of basic ethical behavior and social interaction of not being Kant, Rousseau or Tolstoy. It simply isn't meant to be. What it is meant to be is a compact iteration of the simplest principles of morality which, ironically, remain some of the most difficult to put into practice. It is fine to ponder the complexities of Anna Karenina, The Critique Of Pure Reason or Morality As Natural Law, and we should be able to delve to those depths, but first and foremost, we must find our own central moral core, unmolested by worldly opinion and pressure, exploring the profoundly simple but remarkably difficult "do unto others" that alone has the power to transform ourselves and the world--if we ever find a way to truly lay hands on it.
because the points made are excellent, and individual free will rational decision making is certainly a vital aspect of morality--but it is certainly not the only factor, and it certainly cannot function alone. (Mackay's insinuation that we can just turn our backs on immoral institutions and society ignores a very vital part of us, what Jonathan Haidt calls "hiveishness," the need for the approval of society, and our often unconscious willingness to bend our morality to fit in.) In fact, after reading this book (or before--I would not go so far as to say "instead of"), read Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: it is a much more realistic take on human morality. For instance, Haidt insists that we are 90% chimp (self-interested) and 10% bee (concerned with group approval), and while Haidt does not throw self-determination out the window, he does make an unpleasant truth clear: that we most often "decide" what our morality is by intuition and then make up logical (or, often enough, illogical) reasons to support our intuitive/emotional moral choice (often guided by what WE want to do!) The two books are complementary, I suppose, but do read Haidt to fill in the holes this book leaves in moral theory.
I am part of the generation who worshiped Dilbert. Being an office dweller, I can fondly recall seeing Dilbert cartoons posted on the door's of office colleagues, and sometimes having my own favorite Dilbert cartoons that speak directly to the idiocy of the situation I find myself in.
Thus I am already predisposed to like a serious business book written by the author of Dilbert.
That being said, the book starts off with many many example of where the author has failed in life. The ideas he had before Dilbert that didn't work, the investments he's made in businesses after Dilbert became a success that failed, his personal medical problems that left him unable to speak in public for a long period of time. None of which are particularly funny, but serve the purpose of how he failed much more times than he has succeeded. Yet he's done very well.
The latter half of the book is where the real meat of it is. Concrete advice on how to arrange your life. What subjects to study, where to invest your time, and little tips on how to increase your communication skills, speak in public, topics of small-talk conversations, and the like.
It's not the perfect book. It's not something I recommend in lieu of the classics in the field of business or self-improvement. But it's worth your Audible credit and worth a listen. You'll be thinking of this book for days after you've finished reading it.