The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War

Front Cover
Macmillan, Aug 7, 2007 - Science - 288 pages
10 Reviews

Almost 200 million human beings, mostly civilians, have died in wars over the last century, and there is no end of slaughter in sight.
The Most Dangerous Animal asks what it is about human nature that makes it possible for human beings to regularly slaughter their own kind. It tells the story of why all human beings have the potential to be hideously cruel and destructive to one another. Why are we our own worst enemy? The book shows us that war has been with us---in one form or another---since prehistoric times, and looking at the behavior of our close relatives, the chimpanzees, it argues that a penchant for group violence has been bred into us over millions of years of biological evolution. The Most Dangerous Animal takes the reader on a journey through evolution, history, anthropology, and psychology, showing how and why the human mind has a dual nature: on the one hand, we are ferocious, dangerous animals who regularly commit terrible atrocities against our own kind, on the other, we have a deep aversion to killing, a horror of taking human life. Meticulously researched and far-reaching in scope and with examples taken from ancient and modern history, The Most Dangerous Animal delivers a sobering lesson for an increasingly dangerous world.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
5
4 stars
4
3 stars
1
2 stars
0
1 star
0

Review: The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War

User Review  - Julie - Goodreads

I am deeply troubled by the number of instances of murder, rape and torture and I am unable to understand how this can be. Until I read this book. I understand the causes better, but I still struggle ... Read full review

Review: The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War

User Review  - Happyybrown - Goodreads

Reviewed at: http://happyybrown.wordpress.com/2013... Read full review

Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
PREFACE
1A BADTASTE BUSINESS
2EINSTEINS QUESTION
3OUR OWN WORST ENEMY
4THE ORIGINS OF HUMAN NATURE
5HAMLETS QUESTION
6A LEGACY OF LIES
8RELUCTANT KILLERS
9THE FACE OF WAR
10PREDATORS PREY AND PARASITES
11HUMANITY LOST AND FOUND
APPENDIXA PARTIAL LIST OF DEMOCIDESCOMMITTED DURING THE PAST 100 YEARS
NOTES
INDEX
Copyright

7MORAL PASSIONS

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Dr. David Livingstone Smith is the author of Why We Lie as well as a professor of philosophy and cofounder and director of the Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of New England. He and his wife live in Portland, Maine.

Bibliographic information