THE SOCIAL ANIMAL – The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks

A Book Review by Bill Dahl

Cavorting With The Carnivore of Curiosity!!!

Brooks, David THE SOCIAL ANIMAL – The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, Random House – an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. New York, NY Copyright © 2011 by David Brooks.

What Can I Say! WOW! I Needed That!

Admittedly, I’m a fan of David Brooks mind. I don’t agree with everything he writes in his op-eds for the NY times. Yet, I have developed an appreciation for the carnivore-like appetite he has for exploring a wide range of subjects – particularly those breakthroughs on the forefront of science.

In this book, Brooks creates some fictional characters and allows us to walk along with them on their journey through life – integrating science, philosophy and his own interpretation of the aforementioned – and weaving this into the story line. It works!

Brooks begins with this poignant insight:

“We are living in the middle of a revolution in consciousness. Over the past few years, geneticists, neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, anthropologists, and others have made great strides in understanding the building blocks of human flourishing. And a core finding of their work is that we are not primarily the products of our conscious thinking. We are primarily the products of thinking that happens below the level of awareness.” p..x.

Anyone whose has watched The Brain Series on Charlie Rose simply must read this book. Yet, it’s more than that. This book will be terribly interesting to an audience will be deep and wide.

For me, some of the most delicious items in the book included some of the following excerpts:

“You are the spiritual entity that emerges out of the material networks in your head.” (p 49).

“The ability to construct templates about the future is vitally important to future success.” (p.328).

“Epistemological modesty is an attitude toward life. This attitude is built on the awareness that we don’t know ourselves. Most of what we think and believe is unavailable to conscious review. We are our own deepest mystery.” (Pp.245-6).

Brooks writes: “Sounds and syllables come together and produce a story that has an emotional power that is irreducible to its constituent parts.” (P.109). Well, he proved just that in this book. Outtakes and excerpts just won’t produce the delicious meal this fare delivers to the reader.

Buy it. Devour it! One of my favorites YTD in 2011.

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