The Waning of Humaneness

Konrad Lorenz, Author Little Brown and Company $17.95 (250p) ISBN 978-0-316-53291-4
Lorenz (On Aggression defines our culture's neuroses as worship of social status, greed, overcompetitiveness and love of activity for its own sake. He believes that a general waning of human qualities warps all technocratic societies, whether capitalistic or totalitarian. What makes this stiffly written jeremiad unusual is the author's grounding of his diagnosis in animal-behavior studies. Once meaningful, adaptive human-behavior patternsdivision of labor, specialization, organization, joy in functioninghave turned into cultural straightjackets, he argues. In evolution, with its wild zigzags, Lorenz finds absolutely no guarantee of upward development. But he claims that humans possess a built-in, life-preserving mechanism for improving cultural structures. Readers may find his prescriptions anticlimactic: he urges contact with the world of nature, especially for the young, as a way to overcome our increasingly artificial lives. (May 14)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1987
Release date: 05/01/1987
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