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James Donaldson’s Book Review – The Age Of Empathy by Frans De Waal

The Age of EmpathyDo you ever wonder why we behave the way we behave? Why, animals so eerily behave very similarly to humans? Why some people are seemingly more empathetic and sympathetic than others? Why we develop a sense of “us versus them” mentality? Do you ever question whether the “love” that you give and have received, is conditional or not? Maybe it’s all about survival? Maybe it’s all about belonging?

Is it really human nature to stab one another in the back in our climb up the corporate ladder? Competitive, selfish behavior is often explained away as instinctive, thanks to evolution and “survival of the fittest”, but in fact, humans are equally hard-wired for empathy. Using research from the fields of anthropology, psychology, animal behavior, and neuroscience, Frans de Waal brilliantly argues that humans are group animals – highly cooperative, sensitive to injustice, and mostly peace-loving – just like other primates, elephants, and dolphins. This revelation has profound implications for everything from politics to office culture.

This book, the age of empathy, really goes to great effort to help us understand how we became the way be we came as humans. How we developed civilizations, political systems and why we go to war.  As we’ve all through the millennia, humans, with their much larger brains, long for social contact  and group organization, and that has far outpaced the other animals throughout history to get to the point where we are today.

This book sets out to answer a lot of the questions and curiosities involving human interaction, ranging from, nurture versus nature, birth all the way through death, and also the social mindset of a human being.  There are also wonderful of studies and comparisons with some of our “larger brain” relatives in the animal kingdom, who do very much a similar thing and exhibit a lot of the same behaviors, albeit, most likely probably on a smaller scale.

I really enjoyed reading the Age of Empathy, as the author kept things moving right along, very informative, easy to understand and easy to follow. Really gets you to think about the “bigger world” that surrounds us.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Nonfiction/The-Age-of-Empathy-Audiobook/B002V8ODLQ/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1416451063&sr=1-1

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