The New York Times
Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Lifeby Dacher Keltner
“A landmark book in the science of emotions and its implications for ethics and human universals.”—Library Journal, starred reviewIn this startling study of human emotion, Dacher Keltner investigates an unanswered question of human evolution: If humans are hardwired to lead lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short,” why/p>/em>
“A landmark book in the science of emotions and its implications for ethics and human universals.”—Library Journal, starred reviewIn this startling study of human emotion, Dacher Keltner investigates an unanswered question of human evolution: If humans are hardwired to lead lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short,” why have we evolved with positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, awe, and compassion that promote ethical action and cooperative societies? Illustrated with more than fifty photographs of human emotions, Born to Be Good takes us on a journey through scientific discovery, personal narrative, and Eastern philosophy. Positive emotions, Keltner finds, lie at the core of human nature and shape our everyday behavior—and they just may be the key to understanding how we can live our lives better. Some images in this ebook are not displayed owing to permissions issues.
The New York Times
Keltner (psychology, Univ. of California, Berkeley; director, Greater Good Science Ctr.) effectively brings together Charles Darwin, William James, John Bowlby, and contemporary students of emotion Paul Ekman and Jonathan Haidt to posit a "new science of positive emotion." He bases this science on the Confucian notion of jen, which describes the satisfaction of bringing out the goodness in oneself and others. Keltner argues that emotions like affection, trust, love, compassion, and awe are hardwired in humans across cultures. Vulnerability promotes social cooperation when our frontal lobes are functioning normally-not the case with psychopaths. With sophisticated and entertaining research, Keltner shows that smiling and laughter have different origins and functions, that teasing and politeness are related, that getting soldiers to kill requires damaging the structures of goodness, and that altruism, awe, and religious feeling are demonstrable components of evolved human brains. A landmark book in the science of emotion and its implications for ethics and human universals, this is essential for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ9/1/08.]
E. James Lieberman
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Meet the Author
Dacher Keltner is Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught social psychology for the past 21 years and is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award for Letters and Sciences. His research focuses on the prosocial emotions (such as love, sympathy, and gratitude), morality, and power. Other awards include the Western Psychological Association’s award for outstanding contribution to research, the Positive Psychology Prize for excellence in research, and the Distinguished Mentoring Award at UC Berkeley. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. In 2008, the Utne Reader listed Dacher as one of the 50 visionaries changing the world.
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I had a more hopeful view of humanity after reading this book. The author presents scientific findings from positive psychology in an engaging and accessible way. Many parts of the book had me chuckling. The main thesis is that humans have evolved to be cooperative and compassionate. Also, the key to a meaningful life is to cultivate the goodness in yourself and those around you. I found myself sharing many of the facts from the book at our dinner table...it was very informative.