The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness

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W. W. Norton & Company, Jun 20, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 451 pages
27 Reviews

“Enthralling.”—Frans de Waal, The New York Times Book Review

Survival of the fittest or survival of the nicest? Since the dawn of time man has contemplated the mystery of altruism, but it was Darwin who posed the question most starkly. From the selfless ant to the stinging bee to the man laying down his life for a stranger, evolution has yielded a goodness that in theory should never be.

Set against the sweeping tale of 150 years of scientific attempts to explain kindness, The Price of Altruism tells for the first time the moving story of the eccentric American genius George Price (1922–1975), as he strives to answer evolution's greatest riddle. An original and penetrating picture of twentieth century thought, it is also a deeply personal journey. From the heights of the Manhattan Project to the inspired equation that explains altruism to the depths of homelessness and despair, Price's life embodies the paradoxes of Darwin’s enigma. His tragic suicide in a squatter’s flat, among the vagabonds to whom he gave all his possessions, provides the ultimate contemplation on the possibility of genuine benevolence.
  

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Review: The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness

User Review  - Lynda - Goodreads

Harman skillfully interweaves the biography of a man and an idea. Does altruism stand up as a fact in the cold glare of scientific inquiry? If it does, can it act without benefit of close genetic ties ... Read full review

Review: The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness

User Review  - Philipp - Goodreads

Highly interesting book - in a way, the title is slightly misleading, only about half of the book details the live of the now mostly forgotten George Price (was he ever known in the first place?), the ... Read full review

Contents

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About the author (2011)

Oren Harman, who has a doctorate from Oxford University, is the Chair of the Graduate Program in Science Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University and a professor of the history of science. He is the author of The Man Who Invented the Chromosome, a documentary film maker, and a frequent contributor to The New Republic. He lives in Tel Aviv and New York.

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