Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
|Author:||Robert M. Sapolsky|
Why do we do what we do? Behave is at once a dazzling tour and a majestic synthesis of the whole science of human behaviour. Brought to life through simple language, engaging stories and irreverent wit, it offers the fullest picture yet of the origins of tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, war and peace. Robert Sapolsky's ingenious method is to move backwards in time from the moment at which a behaviour occurs, layer by layer through the myriad influences that led to it: - We begin with the split-second reactions of the brain and nervous system...Then we consider our response to sight, sound and smell in the minutes and seconds beforehand...Next he explains the interactions of hormones, which prime our behaviour in the preceding hours and days...He proceeds through the experiences of adolescence, childhood and foetal development that shape us over our lifespans...And continues over centuries and millennia through the profound influences of genetic inheritance, cultural context and ultimately the evolutionary origins of our species. Throughout, Sapolsky considers the most important question: what causes acts of aggression or compassion? What inspires us to terrible deeds and what might help foster our best behaviour? Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, that is unlikely to be surpassed for many years.
"One of the best scientist-writers of our time" -- Oliver Sacks "Behave is like a great historical novel, with excellent prose and encylopedic detail. It traces the most important story that can ever be told" -- E O Wilson "A great writer and a superb guide to human nature, Sapolsky shows you how all the perspectives and systems connect, and he makes you laugh and marvel along the way. A beautifully crafted work about the biology of morality" -- Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind "A miraculous book, by far the best treatment of violence, aggression, and competition ever. Its depth and breadth of scholarship are amazing, building on Sapolsky's own research and his vast knowledge of the neurobiology, genetic, and behavioral literature. All this is done brilliantly with a light and funny touch that shows why Sapolsky is recognized as one of the greatest teachers in science today" -- Paul Ehrlich, author of Human Natures "As wide as it is deep, this book is colorful, electrifying, and moving. Sapolsky leverages his deep expertise to ask the most fundamental questions about being human" -- David Eagleman, author of Incognito
Robert M. Sapolsky holds degrees from Harvard and Rockefeller Universities and is currently a Professor of Biology and Neurology at Stanford University and a Research Associate with the Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya. He is the author of The Trouble with Testosterone, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers (both finalists for the LA Times Book Award), and A Primate's Memoir. Sapolsky has contributed to Natural History, Discover, Men's Health, and Scientific American, and is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant.