an insightful essential look at evolutionary psychology. the author dies a great job of dispelling many erroneous notions of social darwinism and frames a new paradigm to analyze human consciousness.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
I thought this was a really well-done introduction to the field of evolutionary psychology. Apart from a couple peculiar lapses (post-70's overtones near the beginning, and an anti-Freud rant near the end), the book works really hard to steer clear of unwarranted speculative conclusions about the evolution of human behavior. I would say it does a better job of that than some more recent books on the subject have done.
Simultaneously, it presents a biography of Darwin from the perspective of analyzing him by his own theory. At first I thought this was just a gimmick. It certainly has a gimmicky side to it, but I grew to appreciate it more as the book progressed. Darwin could not possibly have had the perspective to see himself through the implications of what he was putting together. We, on the other hand, are cursed (blessed?) with the insights now available to us thanks to his work. Where that will lead is anyone's guess.
Greg Thornton is a bit odd as a narrator. He adopts sort of an affected voice and mannerisms. I think maybe he was trying to impersonate a stuffy, didactic Victorian lecturer. (Maybe he was trying to impersonate Darwin?) It was a bit off-putting. Fortunately, it mostly wore off towards the end of the book. I like to think he got so caught up in the interesting subject matter that he forgot what character he thought he was creating.
It is indeed fascinating subject matter. Despite the 1994 publication date, it remains as good a book on evolutionary psychology as I have come across.
He talked so much about Darwin's life, and other non-essential tangents. If you want to read this book, I strongly recommend getting a physical copy, so you can skip what doesn't interest you. It could have easily been half the length.
I didn't like the performers voice. Very intellectual sounding, in a bad way.
I was looking for a book that could give me a great foundation and background of Evolutionary Psychology, and this book was perfect!
It goes through the fundamentals of Evolutionary Psychology as well as giving the history of Darwin to give a lot of examples and understand where the evolution theory came from and how it evolved during Darwin's life.
This book is great for anyone interested in evolution theory, evolutionary psychology or human behavior in general.
even though the book is occasionally a bit dry both in content and performance, it is a worthwhile listen. it dives into the evolution of human morality takes a slightly critical stance about the more easy-going view of e.g. "sex at dawn", critically. discusses Frans de Waal's primate research in fairly some detail. certainly a highly recommendable contribution to an ongoing discussion.
I enjoyed this listen despite not being a big fan of the narrator's delivery (clear but mildly irritating). Wright provides a good overview of the field and several consequences of the ideas developed. He takes a semi-biographical narrative of Darwin's personal life and his development of theories of evolution and natural selection to draw the basis and examples for later developments in the understanding of psychology and utilitarian philosophy. He answers possible objections by critics, skeptics, and adherents to that great idol of "free" will, all while providing possible positive perspectives one could have if taking the mindset of the subject at hand. While listening, I tried to apply the topics raised to my personal experience and to those around me. This activity led to a great deal of additional entertainment, especially when evaluating the subtle sibling rivalry and behavioral motivations of my sons. I'd recommend trying it out for yourself.
Excellent read. Interesting perspective and insight regarding human morality, sexuality, and balancing instinct (natural selection) with intellect. I enjoyed the choice to utilize Darwin's life via journals as a practical reference to apply the paradigm.
Awesome book, very insightful
This dude sounds like Kermit the Frog, you need to get Victor Bevine up in this bitch
This is one of the very few books that take an honest, self-critic point of view on what the Darwin (or Wallace!) theory of evolution puts on the table to explain human (and animal) behavior. By doing so it offers some revealing and quite intriguing ideas about why we love, why we hate and why, the heck, that guy over there is getting away with my coffee.
Other than religiously colored books - which includes the "New Atheists" pamphlets with their own religion-like uberpowered self-confidence - the author takes a step back and tries to keep perspective: He knows that he is presenting theories and theories can be wrong. He takes the SCIENCE approach by trying to falsify claims, looking for gaps in arguments - and in this brings the matter to the reader/listener in a much more comprehensible way than any "I know what I am talking about, just listen, you dumb-ass"-book.
Aside from that the books has humor. You have to have some background knowledge to get every joke the author makes, but it _is_ funny.
For me there wasn't a climax, a most memorable moment (mmm), but the whole idea of being able to EXPLAIN emotional behavior and still accepting and even appreciating it (like "love") is something not that easily achievable by a completely scientific view on the emotional world.
Yes, this book does offer an idea of a religion-free common base for moral. Yet, that approach may not be acceptable to all humans, as it does not place humans at the top of the "moral landscape". In fact, it does not place humans on any top anywhere. It puts us back into a place where we belong. THAT may be an unwanted feeling for some.
Unfortunately the reading performance was quite distracting. At times it seemed like the narrator was completely uninterested in what he was reading, as if he just read it from paper and be done with it (which probably was the case). I had to speed playback up to 1.25 or even 1.5 to get SOME dramatic tone into it and not fall asleep (I am listening to audio books when taking my daily walk).
There are some narrative "gags" in the book which Mr Thornton (the voice actor) didn't seem to get.
I was tempted to give the performance a 1 star rating, but that would have been unfair. He still did a good job by speaking very clearly, perfectly understandably, easy to follow.
The content COULD have been stripped down to a 2-hour session without loosing too much of its information. But since the author follows Darwin's life and takes this as an example to illustrate evolution theory, he would have had to delete most of the "aha moments", which make this book so worthwhile.
So, no, I prefer listening to books like this in turns, even with other books in alternation.
I hope that what I was able to say what I wanted to in the comments above. This book really is worth some time of your life, either in printed form or as an audio book. One of the very few books I would actually recommend to people. And that's for the upright, honest and fair point of view taken in it, the acceptance of even the most weird (religious or not) perspective as "human" and "understandable" and even explaining why that is.
Let me put it this way: If someone is able to explain to the point what LOVE is and how it works and leaves you still being able and even wanting to love afterwards, he did a good job.
This books put many things into a new perspective; it is one of the rare books that have transformed the way I see myself, my life (both external and internal), society, and life in general.
The insights kept coming, chapter after chapter...
Pinched, tight, not very pleasant. But the book is so great that this can be overlooked.
I have seldom experienced such sustained excitement in listening to an audiobook.