cover image The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary

The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary

Robert Wright / Author Pantheon Books $27.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-67

The new field of evolutionary psychology-which seeks to explain human behavior, thought and emotions in terms of Darwinian evolution-finds its most articulate exponent in Wright (Three Scientists and Their Gods). In attempting to unravel the evolutionary logic behind friendship, romance, xenophobia, racism, sibling rivalry and so forth, Wright leavens his presentation with wit and humor, interlacing a biographical profile of Charles Darwin, whose marriage, sex life, personal tragedies and travels in turn are thrust in a neo-Darwinian light. Wright, a New Republic senior editor, holds that altruism and conscience did not evolve for the overall good of the species; on the contrary, we deploy the moral sentiments with brutal, flexible self-interest, surrounding our actions in an often delusionary aura of rightness. However, the prevalence of serial monogamy, he says, is the worst of all possible arrangements because it massively squanders love, the most precious evolutionary resource. This is the most sophisticated, in-depth exploration to date of the new Darwinian thinking. Photos. (Sept.)