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The Goodness Paradox

Nonfiction: Science
Unabridged   11 hour(s)
Publication date: 02/19/2019

NEW! Now Available

The Goodness Paradox

The Strange Relationship Between Peace and Violence in Human Evolution

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Audio CD ISBN:9781684415588
Digital Download ISBN:9781684415595


The Goodness Paradox is a highly accessible, authoritative, and intellectually provocative, a startlingly original theory of how Homo sapiens came to be.

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Product Description

Throughout history even as quotidian life has exhibited calm and tolerance war has never been far away, and even within societies violence can be a threat. The Goodness Paradox gives a new and powerful argument for how and why this uncanny combination of peacefulness and violence crystallized after our ancestors acquired language in Africa a quarter of a million years ago. Words allowed the sharing of intentions that enabled men effectively to coordinate their actions. Verbal conspiracies paved the way for planned conflicts and, most importantly, for the uniquely human act of capital punishment. The victims of capital punishment tended to be aggressive men, and as their genes waned, our ancestors became tamer. This ancient form of systemic violence was critical, not only encouraging cooperation in peace and war and in culture, but also for making us who we are: Homo sapiens.


"A work accessible to those outside the scientific field, offering a great deal of information." —Library Journal

“Wrangham has been the most original and influential interpreter of ecological and evolutionary factors in the origin of our species. In The Goodness Paradox he extends his evidence and reasoning into yet another fundamental human trait.” —Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

Author Bio

Richard Wrangham is Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University. He is the author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, and Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (with Dale Peterson). He is the recipient of the Rivers Memorial Medal from the Royal Anthropological Institute.