MOTHERS AND OTHERS
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
Harvard University Press, 2011
For those of us who believe that one of the most important political tasks facing the human race is to dramatically develop our capacity for empathy, this book about the evolutionary origins of mutual understanding comes both as an inspiration and confirmation that we’ve been thinking on the right track. Though many capitalist economists find the idea of reflexive altruism irrational, researchers have produced plentiful evidence to support the idea that altruism is indeed hardwired into the human psyche. In fact, other primates possess neural mechanisms for imitation and rudimentary capacities to identify with others, as well. Hrdy offers a bold and nuanced account of how the tendency to help one another has enabled human beings to survive and evolve. She also fosters a renewed appreciation of the role of mothering not only in a child’s physical development but also in the development of a child’s capacity for inter-subjective engagement.
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