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The Goodness Paradox

Imprint: Profile Books
Pages: 400
Subject: History & Classics
Illustrations: tbc

The Goodness Paradox

How Evolution Made Us Both More and Less Violent

Richard Wrangham

Professor Richard Wrangham advances a provocative new theory of what makes human civilisation special: the nature of our violence.

Hardback(Preorder only)
9781781255834 (Published 17 Jan 2019)
£25

About the book

It may not always seem so, but day-to-day interactions between individual humans are extraordinarily peaceful. That is not to say that we are perfect, just far less violent than most animals, especially our closest relatives, the chimpanzee and their legendarily docile cousins, the Bonobo. Perhaps surprisingly, we rape, maim, and kill many fewer of our neighbours than all other primates and almost all undomesticated animals. But there is one form of violence that humans exceed all other animals in by several degrees: organized proactive violence against other groups of humans. It seems, we are the only animal that goes to war.

In the Goodness Paradox, Richard Wrangham wrestles with this paradox at the heart of human behaviour. Drawing on new research by geneticists, neuroscientists, primatologists, and archaeologists, he shows that what domesticated our species was nothing less than the invention of capital punishment which eliminated the least cooperative and most aggressive among us. But that development is exactly what laid the groundwork for the worst of our atrocities.

About the author

Richard Wrangham is Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University. He is the author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, and Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (with Dale Peterson). Professor Wrangham is a leader in primate behavioral ecology. He is the recipient of the Rivers Memorial Medal from the Royal Anthropological Institute and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Academy.

Reviews

Praise for Catching Fire:
Startling and persuasive

- Economist

Richard Wrangham presents a powerful thesis - and the more you think about it, the more it seems to be true. As a very considerable bonus, his book is an excellent read

- Colin Tudge, Literary Review

An intriguing thesis... Wrangham's basic thesis, that cooking is the key to the human condition, is convincing and is presented in a lively and readable manner

- Robin McKie, Observer

Lucidly written and accessible... What makes his thesis so gripping to read is that it is elegantly argued, step by step

- Harry Eyres, Financial Times

Compelling [and] brilliant

- William Leith, Daily Mail

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Pages: 400
Subject: History & Classics
Illustrations: tbc

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