Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
Why do we do the things we do?
Over a decade in the making, this game-changing book is Robert Sapolsky's genre-shattering attempt to answer that question as fully as perhaps only he could, looking at it from every angle. Sapolsky's storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person's reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its genetic inheritance.
And so the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. What goes on in a person's brain a second before the behavior happens? Then he pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell triggers the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones act hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli which trigger the nervous system? By now, he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened.
Sapolsky keeps going--next to what features of the environment affected that person's brain, and then back to the childhood of the individual, and then to their genetic makeup. Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than that one individual. How culture has shaped that individual's group, what ecological factors helped shape that culture, and on and on, back to evolutionary factors thousands and even millions of years old.
The result is one of the most dazzling tours de horizon of the science of human behavior ever attempted, a majestic synthesis that harvests cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines to provide a subtle and nuanced perspective on why we ultimately do the things we do...for good and for ill. Sapolsky builds on this understanding to wrestle with some of our deepest and thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, and downright heroic in its own right.
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Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and WorstUser Review - Wade M. Lee - Book Verdict
Sapolsky (biology, neurology & neurological sciences, & neurosurgery, Stanford Univ.; A Primate's Memoir) takes a far-reaching look at the biological underpinnings of violence and related human ... Read full review
Twelve HIERARCHY OBEDIENCE AND RESISTANCE
Thirteen MORALITY AND DOING THE RIGHT THING
Fourteen FEELING SOMEONES PAIN UNDERSTANDING
Fifteen METAPHORS WE KILL BY
Sixteen BIOLOGY THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Seventeen WAR AND PEACE
Eight BACK TO WHEN YOU WERE JUST
Nine CENTURIES TO MILLENNIA BEFORE
Ten THE EVOLUTION OF Beh AVIOR
Eleven US VERSUS THEM
The Basics of Endocrinology
Glossary of Abbreviations
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action potential activation adolescents adult aggression American amygdala Androgen animals associated axon baboons Behav behavior biology brain regions cells chapter child childhood chimps cognitive cooperation Correlates cortical cultures decision dendritic spines disgust disorder dominance dopamine effects emotional empathy environment epigenetic evolution example faces fear feel females frontal cortex function genes genetic glucocorticoids heritability hippocampus Horm hormone humans hunter-gatherers increases individual influence insula interactions Intergroup involved kids killed kin selection learning less levels limbic limbic system male mirror neurons monkeys moral Moreover Mēri Neural neurogenesis neuroimaging Neuroscience neurotransmitter occurs oxytocin pain parents percent person play predict Prefrontal Cortex primates prosocial protein Psych punishment receptors response reward role scenario selection sensory serotonin sexual signal social someone species stress subjects synapses testosterone there's things tion trait Tutsi typically University Us/Them variant vasopressin versus violence words