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5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Lively, biased, and a whole lot of fun
Matt Ridley nicely demonstrates here that there is no such thing as virtue and that altruism is an oxymoron. Instead it is all reciprocity and enlightened self-interest. This reminds me of when I was a sophomore in college. We used to argue passionately about three things: the nature of women, whether the Pope believed in God, and whether it was possible to act...
Veröffentlicht am 16. Juli 2000 von Dennis Littrell

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Veröffentlicht am 5. Februar 2011 von Anand


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5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Lively, biased, and a whole lot of fun, 16. Juli 2000
Matt Ridley nicely demonstrates here that there is no such thing as virtue and that altruism is an oxymoron. Instead it is all reciprocity and enlightened self-interest. This reminds me of when I was a sophomore in college. We used to argue passionately about three things: the nature of women, whether the Pope believed in God, and whether it was possible to act otherwise than in one's own self-interest. We concluded that women were an enigma wrapped in a mystery, etc.; that it wasn't clear whether the Pope believed in God or not; and that, barring mistakes, we always acted in our own self-interest. We further concluded that "altruism" was a word without real meaning, that the Pope was an amoral political animal, and that women were, regardless of their nature, VERY interesting. But we were sophomores. Matt Ridley is all grown up, and what interests him in this book is not so much the origin of virtue (although he does get heavily into that) but the restoration of the conservative agenda. Alas. He argues from biology (our nature) to what ought to be politically. This is doubly "alas" because Ridley preaches mightily against this very delusion, calling it a "reverse naturalistic fallacy" (p. 257).
David Ricardo and Adam Smith are brought into the fray, Hobbes and Machiavelli. Ridley takes arguments from game theory and political science and the world of high finance to make his point that virtue as it is ordinarily understood does not exist. He goes on to call for less government and more local autonomy, a return to a dream state of "everything small and local" (p. 264). As he does, Ridley comes dangerously close to taking on all the trappings of a right wing radio talk show host, spouting the virtues of Newt Gingrich and Margaret Thatcher on his way to becoming something like a high-toned Russ Limbaugh.
Alas, how sharp was his rapier and how telling his prose when Ridley stuck to revealing our social and sexual hypocrisy as he did so delightfully in The Red Queen (1993); but how obvious are his prejudices when he steps into the political arena. He actually argues that tried old irrelevancy of the embarrassed right wing, that even though Hitler was bad, very bad, he was better than Stalin. Thus on page 258 we have (referring to the doctrine of acquired characteristics embraced by the Soviet state): "Unlike the genetic determinism of Hitler, Stalin's environmental variety went on to infect other peoples."
Ridley even argues that Hitler got his ideas from the communists. "Hitler was merely carrying out a genocidal policy against 'inferior', incurable or reactionary tribes that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had advocated..." (p. 253). So caught up in his cause is Ridley that he begins to contradict himself and argue for the kind of idyllic fantasy world that he condemns in Rousseauians. Thus in his chapter entitled "The Power of Property" he waxes nostalgic for the "egalitarian" conservation systems of New Guinea fishermen and Maine lobster men before the interference of big government. On page 262 he talks about "The collapse of community spirit in the last few decades, and the erosion of civic virtue...caused" by "the dead hand of the Leviathan." But on the very next page he declares, "I hold to no foggy nostalgia that the past was any better. Most of the past was a time of authority, too..."
Yes, Matt, it was. The authority of the gang lords, of the feudal lord, of a system of social, political and economic imprisonment so oppressive that the average person never got further than a few miles from the place of his birth and had little to no chance of rising above the economic and social station of his birth. It was "small and local" with a vengeance. The tyranny of the feudal lords in Europe and, e.g., the war lords in China is conveniently ignored in Ridley's political fantasy. He claims that we have it better today only because of superior technology (p. 263) forgetting that our system of representative democracy in Republican form is also an improvement over the absolutism of the tribe. The sad lesson here is, that even a man as adroitly talented and as intelligent as Matt Ridley becomes just another propagandist when he ventures into an area in which he is emotionally involved.
Still there is a lot to enjoy in The Origins of Virtue. His discussion of the prisoner's dilemma is the best I've read, although his analysis of the "wolf's dilemma" (p. 55) is faulty. I won't go into it here, but "the tiny chance" that he refers to is overwhelmed by the fact that each player has only a five percent chance of "winning" by pushing his button since he has to beat 19 others to the punch. Consequently the best strategy is the obvious, don't push that button! (But check this out for yourself.) His discussion of how the division of labor has enriched our world is interesting; his analysis of how we detect cheaters and how that is an instinctive human talent is persuasive; and his delineation of the nature of gift giving and receiving and how it relates to our innate sense of reciprocity is valuable as it shines light on the nature of "virtue." In fact, his entire argument is eminently worth reading. His glorification of trade (with which I agree) and his put down of ecologists (with which I disagree) is tolerable. Most fun though--recalling the Matt Ridley of The Red Queen--is in all the sacred cows he slaughters along the way: the New World Indians (ouch!), Margaret Mead, the so-called "tragedy of the commons" theory, the Noble Savage, even poor Chief Seattle is revealed as a slave-owner whose public reputation is largely the product of a screenwriter's imagination (p. 214).
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3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Engaging and quixotic arguments, but with rigour underneath, 19. November 1999
Von 
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (Taschenbuch)
Matt Ridley is a British science journalist who has the estimable quality of relying on facts rather than opinions to make his case. In this short, highly readable book he puts forward the evolutionary biologist's theory for the existence of human cooperation and altruism, and he does it brilliantly. The depth and breadth of material covered is extraordinary, and this book well rewards repeated readings (always the sign of good science writing).
From an introductory description of the ideas of Kropotkin, through game theory and Evolutionarily Stable Strategies, to a discussion of free market economics as the 'best fit' to human models of social cooperation, Ridley introduces a wealth of meticulously researched material with sufficient digs at current bien-pensant wisdom on the acquisition of culture to make the average sociologist's hair stand on end.
Matt Ridley writes a weekly column (Acid Test) in the UK broadsheet newspaper The Daily Telegraph, and his customary penetrating analysis of accepted cultural and environmental theory is always a joy to read. He brings this penetrating style to bear on some of the shibboleths of modern sociology (there is a particularly devastating broadside reserved for the egregious Margaret Mead and her band of fellow travelers in the 'Culture Makes Mind' school).
The book concludes (rashly, as even the author acknowledges) with a defense of economic libertarianism. Ridley attempts to show that the whole panoply of cheater-detectors, enlightened self interest and Ricardo-esque comparative advantage that characterises the evolution-moulded systems of human altruism and socialisation can be used to argue in favour of a market-based, minimally interventionist society in which trade is as little hampered by government (or other) interference as possible. Although attempting to introduce economic theory into a work on biology might seem strange, it links in well with the lessons drawn from earlier sections of the book that demonstrate that extra-group commerce is a uniquely human activity. It should also be remembered that an economic analysis of human nature is far from new: the great F. A. Hayek analysed just such a thesis, although his work predates this book by many years.
In summary: a marvellous and rewarding book; extremely highly recommended.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Brilliant account of human behavior, 17. März 1999
Von 
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (Taschenbuch)
A much better rendition on human behavior than "The Lucifer Principle" by Howard Bloom. H. Bloom oversimplifies history and the world of the Homo Sapiens. Matt Ridley's analysis is much less extreme, much more in the line of european thought. Unlike other biologists-anthropologists, M. Ridley does not use memetics to explain his ideas. However, he succeeds in presenting a brilliant book that will be difficult to ignore. His chapter on "Ecology as a religion" undermines the very underpinings on the current environmental movement. If Richard Dawkins "The Selfish Gene" gave me a sensation of a terrible existential vertigo, this book has restored my faith in humankind.
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The nature of 'good' and 'evil'-partly explained, 12. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (Taschenbuch)
For those who want to understand and explore what science is discovering regarding what makes people sometimes nice to each other, and sometimes not, this book is for you. You'll need a bit of courage, this book is pretty heavy going, but well worth the effort. I think parts of Ridleys analysis are close to genius, others a bit watery, especially towards the end. Nevertheless a good expose of (more or less) current thinking on game theory, motivation, evolutionary theory, and what we describe as 'virtue'. Remarkable insights.
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A winning plea for co-operation, trust and decentralization., 9. Oktober 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (Taschenbuch)
Matt Ridley is from the Richard Dawkins school of science-writing in that he is unencumbered by political correctness and moralistic point-scoring. He revels in what actually is and, like Thomas Huxley, he is happy to kneel humbly down like a child before fact and argue his case with wit, precision and humility. In THE ORIGINS OF VIRTUE, he shows how organisms of staggering complexity have evolved by the mutual co-operation of particular genes, the isolation and effective punishment of those genes that have anti-social effects and how homo sapiens could never have attained its phenomenal success without these well-honed adaptations for reciprocal atruism. Morality and virtue then are, like everything else, useful tools for survival and have proven essential for our evolution. He suggests that problems arise when the social groups in which we are designed to operate become so large that defectors become difficult to deal with and that good deeds often become lost in the crowd. He seems to be calling for a return to smallness, to more manageable, self-contained units and a less centralized government. In short, a return to community. This is a rational, lucid and hugely enjoyable book (as is his wonderful THE RED QUEEN) and Ridley's voice rings out as one full of sanity and wisdom.
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen the second most important philosophical book since the bible, 27. August 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (Taschenbuch)
At last 'good' and 'evil' explained biologically as 'in my/families best interest' and 'not in my/families best interest.
Murder and war by men with sharp sticks made rational.
The implications for a 'global family' defending a 'spaceship earth' limited territory with weapons that are 'M.A.D' are obvious.
Wouldn't agree with some of the details of the conclusions,but the thrust is as immutable as DNA
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Thanks Amazon, 5. Februar 2011
For the first time, I bought a used book from Amazon and I was very happy with the service of Amazon. The book came in time, price was amazing and the book condition was very good. Overall a big thumbs up!!
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4.0 von 5 Sternen The selfish gene arguement, brilliantly defended ., 18. Juli 2000
Matt Ridley intelligently mixes a cascade of infomation, with a sound arguement and structure to defend the existence of our society, morals and groupishness in light of the selfish gene arguement. A must read for anyone interested in economy, biology and philosophy!
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Marred only by a not so subtle agenda, 17. März 2000
Von 
Neil Hepburn (Toronto, ON, Canada) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
(REAL NAME)   
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (Taschenbuch)
Ridley's disection of altruism takes a more ambitious stab at the puzzle of altruism than Dawkins' classic "The Selfish Gene".
While many of findings are astonishing, and sound. I was left disappointed by his final conclusions. He has fallen victim to the notion that there is some (high level) recipe for prosperity. I observe the fact he takes a right wing stance, but this is not to what I object. As he points out in earlier parts of his book, any strategy (no matter how abstract) leading to prosperity can, and will be undermined by another strategy.
"Common sense" is not eternal, and only exists in the here and now.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent, 16. Januar 2000
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Blaine E. Crowther "blaines_wrld" (Charlottesville, VA) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (Taschenbuch)
This book should definitely be on your short list of books to read if you are at all interested in what makes us humans behave as we do. The prior review by David Gillies sums up the books nicely. I would just like to add one further detail.
The modern intelligentsia and media have portrayed Native Americans and other Aboriginal peoples as conservationists and environmentalists who were stewards of the earth's resources and were 'at one with nature'. If this is true, then it largely refutes Ridley's whole argument. Ridley devotes a whole chapter to this ( Chapter 11 - Ecology as Religion ) and shows that it is a complete myth. Some of the facts he adduces: Shortly after 'Native Americans' arrived in North America, 73% of the large mammals were exterminated and became extinct. Shortly after man arrived in South America, 80% of the large mammals were exterminated and became extinct. As the Polynesians colonized the Pacific, they extinguished 20% of all the bird species on earth. At Olsen-Chubbock, the site of ancient bison massacres in Colorado, where people regularly stampeded herds over a cliff, the animals lay in such heaps after a successful stampede that only the ones on the top were butchered, and only the best joints were taken from them. If you are incredulous - read the book, all the sources are there. Ridley's final conclusion is that the limitations of technology or demand, rather than a culture of self-restraint or religious respect, is what kept tribal people from overexploiting their environment. One nice touch is Ridley's quote of Chief Seattle's speech which Al Gore includes in his book 'Earth in the Balance'.
"How can you buy or sell the sky? The Land?...Every part of this earth is sacred to my people..."
This quote would seem to establish Native Americans as the original environmentalists. Unfortunately, the speech was never given. It was written by Ted Perry, in 1971, for an ABC television drama. Who says TV doesn't shape our perception of reality. ( It seems poor Gore is out of touch or is it calculated deception? How could he be expected to know that Chief Seattle owned slaves and killed almost all his enemies. ) If you are incensed over this, maybe ecology is a religion for you? Politically incorrect stuff to be sure. All this to establish that humans have a 'nature' which transcends their cultural milieu.
I highly recommend the book.
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