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Born to be Good


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About the Author

Dacher Keltner is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, director of the Greater Good Science Center, and coeditor of Greater Good magazine. His research focuses on pro-social emotions, power, and moral reasoning.


Keltner (psychology, Univ. of California, Berkeley; director, Greater Good Science Ctr.) effectively brings together Charles Darwin, William James, John Bowlby, and contemporary students of emotion Paul Ekman and Jonathan Haidt to posit a "new science of positive emotion." He bases this science on the Confucian notion of jen, which describes the satisfaction of bringing out the goodness in oneself and others. Keltner argues that emotions like affection, trust, love, compassion, and awe are hardwired in humans across cultures. Vulnerability promotes social cooperation when our frontal lobes are functioning normally-not the case with psychopaths. With sophisticated and entertaining research, Keltner shows that smiling and laughter have different origins and functions, that teasing and politeness are related, that getting soldiers to kill requires damaging the structures of goodness, and that altruism, awe, and religious feeling are demonstrable components of evolved human brains. A landmark book in the science of emotion and its implications for ethics and human universals, this is essential for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/08.]-E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"A fact-filled, fun, and enlightened peek into our minds and hearts." -- Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence "A fresh and absolutely fascinating book." -- Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma "A bright, entertaining book ... [that] covers broad, interesting territory." -- Janet Maslin - The New York Times

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