Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind

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9780691146744: Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind


We're all hypocrites. Why? Hypocrisy is the natural state of the human mind.


Robert Kurzban shows us that the key to understanding our behavioral inconsistencies lies in understanding the mind's design. The human mind consists of many specialized units designed by the process of evolution by natural selection. While these modules sometimes work together seamlessly, they don't always, resulting in impossibly contradictory beliefs, vacillations between patience and impulsiveness, violations of our supposed moral principles, and overinflated views of ourselves.


This modular, evolutionary psychological view of the mind undermines deeply held intuitions about ourselves, as well as a range of scientific theories that require a "self" with consistent beliefs and preferences. Modularity suggests that there is no "I." Instead, each of us is a contentious "we"--a collection of discrete but interacting systems whose constant conflicts shape our interactions with one another and our experience of the world.


In clear language, full of wit and rich in examples, Kurzban explains the roots and implications of our inconsistent minds, and why it is perfectly natural to believe that everyone else is a hypocrite.


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From the Inside Flap:

"Robert Kurzban is one of the best evolutionary psychologists of his generation: he is distinctive not only for his own successful research and sophisticated understanding of psychology, but also because of his wit--Kurzban is genuinely clever, sly, succinct, and sometimes hilarious."--Steven Pinker, Harvard University

"In this amazing book, Robert Kurzban carries out a brilliantly thought-provoking conversation with himself that made me think hard--and laugh out loud. Using clever examples and a revolutionary scientific approach, he shows that contradiction is truly a fundamental human experience. No wonder, then, that I wanted to share this book with my friends--but I also wanted to keep it for myself! If you don't read this book, you'll be left wondering what everyone (else) is talking about."--James H. Fowler, coauthor of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

"Here is a fun counterpoint to the explosion of examples showing that humans do not act in accordance with the predictions of standard rational models. But Kurzban is no defender of the standard models. Rather he seeks an understanding of why our actions may appear contradictory in particular contexts, but serve us well in others, and why that helps to improve our fitness for decision, if not always for a life of liberty."--Vernon L. Smith, Nobel Laureate in Economics

About the Author:

Robert Kurzban is associate professor of psychology and founder of the Pennsylvania Laboratory for Experimental Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2008, he won the inaugural Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution from the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.

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Robert Kurzban
Editore: Princeton University Press (2011)
ISBN 10: 0691146748 ISBN 13: 9780691146744
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Kurzban, Robert
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