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The Origins of Virtue

Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation

by Matt Ridley

If, as Darwin suggests, evolution relentlessly encourages the survival of the fittest, why are humans compelled to live in cooperative, complex societies? In this fascinating examination of the roots of human trust and virtue, a zoologist and former American editor of The Economist reveals the results of recent studies that suggest that self-interest and mutual aid are not at all incompatible. In fact, he points out, our cooperative instincts may have evolved as part of mankind's natural selfish behavior - by exchanging favors we can benefit ourselves as well as others. Brilliantly orchestrating the newest findings of geneticists, psychologists, and anthropologists, The Origins of Virtue reexamines the everyday assumptions upon which we base our actions toward others, whether in our roles as parents, siblings, or trade partners. With the wit and brilliance of The Red Queen, his acclaimed study of human and animal sexuality, Matt Ridley shows us how breakthroughs in computer programming, microbiology, and economics have given us a new perspective on how and why we relate to one another.

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Recommendations: 1

Categories: Psychology & Mental HealthScience

Reading time: 910 hours


Naval Ravikant
Entrepreneur and Investor

I think three or four of my top 20 books of all time are all Ridley’s. Rational Optimist, Genome, Red Queen, Origins of Virtue.