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Publisher Description

In this lively and illuminating discussion of his landmark research, esteemed primatologist Frans de Waal argues that human morality is not imposed from above but instead comes from within. Moral behavior does not begin and end with religion but is in fact a product of evolution.

For many years, de Waal has observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food. Now he delivers fascinating fresh evidence for the seeds of ethical behavior in primate societies that further cements the case for the biological origins of human fairness. Interweaving vivid tales from the animal kingdom with thoughtful philosophical analysis, de Waal seeks a bottom-up explanation of morality that emphasizes our connection with animals. In doing so, de Waal explores for the first time the implications of his work for our understanding of modern religion. Whatever the role of religious moral imperatives, he sees it as a “Johnny-come-lately” role that emerged only as an addition to our natural instincts for cooperation and empathy.

But unlike the dogmatic neo-atheist of his book’s title, de Waal does not scorn religion per se. Instead, he draws on the long tradition of humanism exemplified by the painter Hieronymus Bosch and asks reflective readers to consider these issues from a positive perspective: What role, if any, does religion play for a well-functioning society today? And where can believers and nonbelievers alike find the inspiration to lead a good life?

Rich with cultural references and anecdotes of primate behavior, The Bonobo and the Atheist engagingly builds a unique argument grounded in evolutionary biology and moral philosophy. Ever a pioneering thinker, de Waal delivers a heartening and inclusive new perspective on human nature and our struggle to find purpose in our lives.

Science & Nature
March 25
W. W. Norton & Company
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Customer Reviews


Worry about your own life!

Stop telling others how they should live. Personally, I don't care about your silly superstitions.

Deal with it!

Christ-Like1992 ,

Get right with God before it's too late!!

Everybody just needs to get right with God. Whether anybody wants to believe it or not GOD is real. We get in all these relationships with people, money and other none sense which mold us into who we are but we all just need to get into a relationship with GOD and let him mold us into who he wants us to be. If you don't believe me just ask GOD to reveal his self to you throughout the day for just one week. #God is perfect. Life isn't. Keep the faith. God is love. And ps, you can't honestly say we were put here just to die and nothing happens after. like whats the use of even being created at all if we just gone die and lay in the grave after a imperfect life. If you really just sit down and think about it. #Heaven Bound. Keep GOD 1st!!

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