The Age of Empathy

The Age of Empathy

Nature's Lessons for A Kinder Society

Book - 2009/09/22
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Random House, Inc.
"An important and timely message about the biological roots of human kindness."
—Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape

Are we our brothers' keepers? Do we have an instinct for compassion? Or are we, as is often assumed, only on earth to serve our own survival and interests? In this thought-provoking book, the acclaimed author of Our Inner Ape examines how empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans.

By studying social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution, Frans de Waal demonstrates that animals–and humans–are "preprogrammed to reach out." He has found that chimpanzees care for mates that are wounded by leopards, elephants offer "reassuring rumbles" to youngsters in distress, and dolphins support sick companions near the water's surface to prevent them from drowning. From day one humans have innate sensitivities to faces, bodies, and voices; we've been designed to feel for one another.

De Waal's theory runs counter to the assumption that humans are inherently selfish, which can be seen in the fields of politics, law, and finance, and whichseems to be evidenced by the current greed-driven stock market collapse. But he cites the public's outrage at the U.S. government's lack of empathy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a significant shift in perspective–one that helped Barack Obama become elected and ushered in what may well become an Age of Empathy. Through a better understanding of empathy's survival value in evolution, de Waal suggests, we can work together toward a more just society based on a more generous and accurate view of human nature.

Written in layman's prose with a wealth of anecdotes, wry humor, and incisive intelligence, The Age of Empathy is essential reading for our embattled times.

Baker & Taylor
A lighthearted investigation into human and animal empathy by the influential primatologist and psychologist author of Chimpanzee Politics shares anecdotal coverage of the ways in which various animals care for one another instinctively and how human biology contributes to our notion of a just society.

Book News
De Waal (psychology and primatology, Emory U.) contends that animals--and humans--are hard-wired to reach out to others, to express empathy. The author's theory contradicts others who assume humans are basically selfish and use the examples of law, politics, and finance as examples. Instead, the author cites the American public's outrage at the federal government's lack of empathy and response following Hurricane Katrina and argues that it illustrates a shift in the national perspective for the better. It is an interesting book written for the lay reader with both humor and insight. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Baker
& Taylor

A lighthearted investigation into human and animal empathy shares anecdotal coverage of the ways in which various animals care for one another instinctively and how human biology contributes to our notion of a just society.

Publisher: Random House Inc 2009/09/22
ISBN: 9780307407764
0307407764
Branch Call Number: 501 DEW
Characteristics: 320 p

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