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
While I may surely agree with the overall premise of this text I find the exposition nothing more than verbal mish-mash. The author goes from totally unintelligible pseudo academic contrivance to the most common conversational non-sense,
Much of the text is devoted to the life of Darwin, There are no small number of bios that deal with Darwin's life in a more scholarly fashion.
The rest of the text is sheer babble.
The narrator's voice recalls a comic from my childhood who played a scholar that babbled fancy words that meant nothing.
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.
Didn't really want to hear about Darwin's life, but forced to to get thru the book for tidbits of interesting info
not at all
This book seemed more about the life of Darwin than anything else.
The first half of this book is exciting, provocative and excellently argued. I was amazed about how the evolutionary psychology discussed could mirror my life. I had decided to buy a kindle version as well to read over. But the 2nd half was a complete disappointment. Boring, insipid and more a biography of Darwin's life, not something I had signed up for. Also the theories were now discussed in such a way as to fit into Darwin's life retrospectively.
That's why it's 2 books; the first half mind-blowing, the 2nd, contrived and boring. But just for the first half, the book is worth 4 stars.
I would, only for the 1st half
There were no characters
Yes, the 1st half was un-put-down-able
Dawkins' selfish gene and blind watchmaker explore similar themes but the 3 books complement each other. Whilst Dawkins usually deigns to comment on morality, Wright is happy to give us his view. The first section on gender differences superficially sounds chauvinistic and dated until we remind ourselves of the "blindness" of natural selection. The one point Dawkins made about being able to raise ourselves above our evolutionary tendencies is put into doubt in this book as we struggle with our concept of free will. This is excellent reading for an explanation of reciprocal altruism, kin selection and non zero sum games.