The Social Contract: A Personal Inquiry into the Evolutionary Sources of Order and Disorder
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Violation of biological command has been the failure of social man. Vertebrates though we may be, we have ignored the law of equal opportunity since civilization's earliest hours. Sexually reproducing beings though we are, we pretend today that the law of inequality does not exist. And enlightened though we may be, while we pursue the unattainable we make impossible the realizable.
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Good Science, Acknowledged Inadequate Philosophy
The book contains a vast amount of science - verified knowledge that still holds true after four and a half decades of vast change (and further verified knowledge) - the author could have stopped half-way through for a full book, so you still get a lot of science for your money.
The author does do a lot of weak philosophizing, and he readily admits that philosophy was (and it still is) weak, noting the "shuddering, drunken, tottering of a social structure supported by an inadequate philosophy" (he was speaking of urban ills, but it applies across the board of human existence). This did not stop the author from heaping copious amounts of such inadequate philosophy onto the reader/listener (and probably spurred him to at least try to remedy it - he failed).
He does attempt to correlate the observed animal individual and social behavior with that of humans, and I noted that it does correlate - to lower humans (who do not yet have my new philosophy) (my family dismissed me out-of-hand, but I counter with, "Hey, at least it cuts across race, religion, and gender - now you have people who are only separated by being enlightened or not"). So the book gives us a wealth of insight into our instinctive side (the Freudian 'Id') - if we went around mindlessly (like most people do). I also came away knowing where pulp fiction writers get their character material.
There is a lot of fascinating accounts of species population dynamics that will surprise anyone who has heretofore gone on conventional wisdom (that populating control in animals is resource-driven - it is not always the case, in some species there are fascinating inborn self-regulating genetic behaviors involved - like lemmings mass-self-destructing, female titmice aborting if they even smell another male within four days (population too dense) and snowshoe hares dying off out of sheer nervous breakdowns (again population too dense - no matter what the state of local resources are - more from territorial issues). So the book is still eye-opening in many ways to the non-population dynamics non-animal behavior specialist (meaning me, and probably you).
The author is a good writer, and gives us a lot of great passages, such as "materialism has been the human's rainbow's end" and "tyrants find their power in the mob", and great observations made, such as "animal (and human) play - where there is no great penalty for making wrong decisions".
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