Robert Wright


American Journalist, Scholar, and Author of best-selling books about science, evolutionary psychology, history, religion, and game theory

Author Quotes

Even though one driving force behind monotheism?s emergence seems to have been hostility, the God that emerged needn?t remain hostile toward Israel?s neighbors. Even if the ?universalism? so often attributed to the God of the exile is partly a euphemism for far-flung retribution, this God was capable of moving toward moral universalism, toward universal compassion? What?s more, even if there is backsliding, every burst of moral growth God exhibits, once etched in scripture, can be revived later, even amplified, when circumstances are conducive.

It was both difficult and it was contentious. But that wasn't the point. When it all came down it was a 5-0 approval with the conditions. In this way, I think everyone was able to take their egos, their biases, and their prejudices and leave them at the door.

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Every image tells a story. They pilfered each other's tribes. They fought the cavalry. They fought disease. They fought trappers.

It's an unpredictable runaway chemical reaction no one predicted.

This is the moral irony of the Koran. On the one hand, it is vengeful; people who read it after hearing only whitewashed summaries are often surprised at the recurring air of retribution. Yet most of the retributive passages don?t encourage retribution; almost always, it is God, not any Muslim, who is to punish the infidels. And if we confine ourselves to the Meccan years ? most of the Koran ?Muslims are encouraged to resist the impulse of vengeance.

For the psychologist may seem obvious that the evolution of a reflexive, self-aware brain will free us from the basic dictates of our evolutionary past. For an evolutionary biologist is obvious quite the opposite - that the human brain has evolved not to isolate us from the rules of survival and reproduction, but in order to follow them more efficiently, more accurately. We are descended from species, the males of which force seize females; Now the males of our species whisper females different pleasant nonsense, and whispering may well obey the same logic as the violence - the logic of manipulation in the interests of the male by the female, and this form of manipulation serves the same function.

Lasting love is something A person has to Decide to Experience. Lifelong monogamous devotion is just not natural-not for women even, and emphatically not for men. It requires what, for lack of a better term, we can call an act of will? This is not to say that a young man cannot hope to be seized by love? But whether the sheer fury of a man's feelings accurately gauges their likely endurance is another question. The ardor will surely fade, sooner or later, and the marriage will then live or die on respect, practical compatibility, simple affection, and (these days, especially) determination. With the help of these things, something worthy of the label 'love' can last until death. But it will be a different kind of love from the kind that began the marriage. Will it be a richer love, a deeper love, a more spiritual love? Opinions vary. But it's Certainly A more impressive love.

This view of marriage - a textbook example of how Darwinism can and it cannot reasonably be involved in the discussion on the topic of morality. What it cannot do - so it's to provide us with basic moral values. For example, if we want to live in a society of equality or not - the choice is ours; indifference to the suffering of natural selection, the weak - it's not something that we should follow. And we should not care whether the murder, robbery and violence natural in the evolutionary coordinates. It is only our job to decide how disgusting we find such phenomena, and how hard we want to fight with them.

Fuel efficiency is reducing the fund?s income per mile driven and the average number of miles driven per person has declined.

Narrow-minded way of approaching the relationship between thoughts and feelings on the one hand and the pursuit of the objectives of the other - not only backward, but also wrong. We tend to believe that our solutions begin with to make judgments, in accordance with which our actions are carried out and we decide who is pleasant and therefore render him friendly support, we decide who is frank, and we welcome it, we calculate who is wrong, and resist him, we calculate what is the truth, and follow it. This picture Freud would add that we often have goals that we do not realize objectives that can be pursued indirectly, even counter-productive way, and that our perception of the world may be deformed in the process. But how evolutionary psychology can be trusted, so this picture should be turned inside out. We trust anything - the value of personal ethics and even objective truth - just because it's exciting behavior, transmitting our genes to the next generation (or, at least, pass on our genes in an ancient setting). These behavioral goals - status, sex, effective coalition, parental investment, and so on - remain unchanged, while our perception of reality is adjusted to adapt to this constancy. Everything that is in our genetic interests, seems to us the right moral law, objective law, whatever tension it may require. In short, if Freud stressed the difficulties in observing the people the truth about themselves, new Darwinists emphasize the difficulties and see and understand the truth. Darwinism comes close to that, to question the very meaning of the word truth. Above the small talk that could possibly reveal the truth - talking about morality, political conversations and sometimes even academic talking - Darwinism includes light elemental struggle for power. Someone will win in these discussions, but often there is no reason to expect that this will be the winner though. It is possible that Freud's deeper cynicism is hard to imagine, but there it is.

To the extent that we can tell, the one true God?the God of Jews, then of Christians, and then of Muslims ? was originally a god of vengeance. Fortunately, the previous sentence has an asterisk: but it doesn?t matter. The salvation of the world in the twenty-first century may well hinge on how peaceful and tolerant Abrahamic monotheism is. But it doesn?t hinge on whether these attributes were built in at monotheism?s birth. That?s because monotheism turns out to be, morally speaking, a very malleable thing, something that, when circumstances are auspicious can be a fount of tolerance and compassion.

Here the contention is not just that the new Darwinian paradigm can help us realize whichever moral values ??we happen to choose. The claim is that the new paradigm can actually influence - legitimately - our choice of basic values ??in the first place. Some Darwinians insist that such influence can never be legitimate. What they have in mind is the naturalistic fallacy, whose past violation has so tainted their line of work. But what we're doing here does not violate the naturalistic fallacy. Quite the opposite. By studying nature - by seeing the origins of the retributive impulse - we see how we have been conned into committing the naturalistic fallacy without knowing it; we discover that the aura of divine truth surrounding retribution is nothing more than a tool with which nature - natural selection - gets us to uncritically accept its values. Once this hits Revelation norm, we are less likely to obey this Aura, and THUS less likely to commit the Fallacy.

Nature has gone to great lengths to hide our subconscious from ourselves. Why?

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Human beings are a splendid species in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their ignorance of the misuse.

Once you the forces that govern behavior, it's harder to blame the behaver.

Understanding the often unconscious nature of genetic control is the first step toward understanding that?in many realms, not just sex?we?re all puppets, and our best hope for even partial liberation is to try to decipher the logic of the puppeteer.

Human nature consists of knobs and of mechanisms for tuning the knobs, and both are in invisible their own way.

Perhaps the most legitimately dispiriting thing about reciprocal altruism is that it is a misnomer. Whereas with kin selection the goal of our genes is to actually help another organism, with reciprocal altruism the goal is that the organism be left under the impression that we've helped; the impression alone is enough to Bring the reciprocation.

Various people had long had the feeling that gain through pain was nature's way

Humans have various ways of coping with extended stress, and one is the anticipation of a better time. Here, as with retribution, there is often a kind of symmetry: the more intense the stress and the more hopeless the situation, the more the coming fabulous times that are anticipated.

Religion is a feature of cultural evolution that, among other things, addresses anxieties created by cultural evolution; it helps social change keep safe from itself.

We are built to be effective animals, not happy ones.

I don?t argue that religious belief is a pre-requisite for this moral progress; atheists are presumably just as responsive to the underlying dynamic as believers. The values system in question?religious or secular?is a kind of ?neutral medium? through which underlying social dynamics find their moral manifestation.

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American Journalist, Scholar, and Author of best-selling books about science, evolutionary psychology, history, religion, and game theory