The Elephant in the Brain

The Elephant in the Brain

Hidden Motives in Everyday Life

Book - 2018
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Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains, therefore, are designed not just to hunt and gather, but also to help us get ahead socially, often via deception and self-deception. But while we may be self-interested schemers, we benefit by pretending otherwise. Theless we know about our own ugly motives, the better - and thus we don't like to talk or even think about the extent of our selfishness. This is "the elephant in the brain." Such an introspective taboo makes it hard for us to think clearly about our nature and the explanations for our behavior. Theaim of this book, then, is to confront our hidden motives directly - to track down the darker, unexamined corners of our psyches and blast them with floodlights. Then, once everything is clearly visible, we can work to better understand ourselves: Why do we laugh? Why are artists sexy? Why do webrag about travel? Why do we prefer to speak rather than listen?Our unconscious motives drive more than just our private behavior; they also infect our venerated social institutions such as Art, School, Charity, Medicine, Politics, and Religion. In fact, these institutions are in many ways designed to accommodate our hidden motives, to serve covert agendasalongside their "official" ones. The existence of big hidden motives can upend the usual political debates, leading one to question the legitimacy of these social institutions, and of standard policies designed to favor or discourage them. You won't see yourself - or the world - the same afterconfronting the elephant in the brain.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2018
ISBN: 9780190495992
Characteristics: x, 397 pages :,illustrations ;,25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Hanson, Robin 1959-- Author


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Dec 03, 2019

I listened to the audiobook, and it was good company for a couple of weeks. A lot of research presented in a fairly palatable way. I was surprised at the shallow analysis of rape, assuming rape is universally condemned, and ignoring that we live in a rape culture and that rape is used as a weapon of war and subjugation. The research findings on schooling were amazing and disheartening. I found the analysis of motivations regarding charity enlightening. The authors were a bit too flippant regarding religion, in my opinion -- the research can stand for itself without sarcasm added.

Apr 03, 2018

Enjoyed the book, but please make up your minds about the notes. Some of the notes are an enjoyable 'colour commentary' to the main text, and are well worth reading, even though they are not laid out in an easy to navigate fashion. So it's frustrating to go through all the rigamarole of juggling two bookmarks, flipping back to find out what chapter you're on (NOT on the top of the page), rooting through the 'notes', only to find a long column of 'Ibid' with the name of a book at the top. Obviously this is not the fault of the authors, but in this book it is particularly irritating.

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