The Brighter Side of Human Nature
Altruism and Empathy in Everyday Life
By (author) Alfie Kohn
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Brighter Side of Human Nature by Alfie Kohn
Book DescriptionDrawing from hundreds of studies in half a dozen fields, The Brighter Side of Human Nature makes a powerful case that caring and generosity are just as natural as selfishness and aggression. This lively refutation of cynical assumptions about our species considers the nature of empathy and the causes of war, why we (incorrectly) explain all behavior in terms of self-interest, and how we can teach children to care.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780465007585
(235mm x 156mm x 24mm)
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 30-Apr-1992
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Alfie Kohn
Myth of the Spoiled Child, Paperback (March 2016)
Originally published in hardcover in 2014.
More Than a Score, Paperback (January 2015)
Voices from the growing movement of teachers, students, and parents organizing against high-stakes testing.
Feel-Bad Education, Paperback (April 2011)
One of education's most outspoken voices presents a challenging and entertaining writing on where we should go in American education. Kohn argues in the title essay with those who think that high standards mean joylessness in the classroom.
Homework Myth, Paperback (October 2007)» View all books by Alfie Kohn
In The Homework Myth, nationally known educator and parenting expert Alfie Kohn challenges the usual defenses of homework and shows that none of our assumptions about its benefits actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience
US Kirkus Review » A persuasive meditation on altruism as a fundamental human trait. Like Morton Hunt in The Compassionate Beast (p. 399), Kohn (No Contest: The Case Against Competition, 1986 - not reviewed) sets out to demonstrate that, contrary to popular and expert opinion, humanity is not motivated by egoism alone. Unlike Hunt, however, who relies almost entirely on a wealth of anecdotal and experimental evidence to boost altruism, Kohn derides much scientific investigation of the phenomenon, declaring that, for example, sociobiology has little of use to say about altruism because "biologists are not interested in motives." And it is in the moral domain of motive (i.e., the mind) rather than in the amoral domain of biological or economic necessity that Kohn - through careful argument woven of common sense and the findings of artists, humanistic psychologists, and philosophers (especially Martin Buber) - finds the wellspring of altruism. Like Hunt, Kohn names empathy ("the capacity to share in the affective life of another") as the likely mechanism of altruism, empowered by the human ability at "perspective taking" ("the capacity to imagine the way the world looks from a vantage point other than one's own"). A fascinating chapter explores the natural and inculcated (e.g., in California's Child Development Program) development of empathy and perspective taking in children, while in a provocative concluding chapter Kohn examines the implications - for example, for capitalism - of what he calls an "organic morality," wherein "what we want to do and what we ought to do are not so far apart after all." An elegant and erudite defense of human kindness that, by providing a philosophical understanding of altruism, serves as a necessary complement to Hunt's breezier, popular-scientific study. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Alfie Kohn
Alfie Kohn is the author of ten previous books, including Punished by Rewards, The Schools Our Children Deserve, and Unconditional Parenting. He lives with his family in the Boston area.
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