When it comes to sex, Darwin didn't go far enough.
Whereas his theory of natural selection dictates that species adapt the most efficient and logical traits, Generous Man makes the case that an animal's success, sexually, depends on developing the least efficient traits. Nørretranders uses as the central symbol of his theory the peacock's plumage. It's cumbersome, showy, and inefficient — and therefore terribly attractive to peahens. Put more simply, nothing shows a potential mate just how worthy you are as a partner than your ability to be wasteful and inefficient. It's like a man with money to burn.
But money isn’t everything: humans really measure their worth by doing something that’s difficult. This is a central factor in evolution. In order to win a partner to mate with, humans display their best sides. In order to win a partner, we display our best sides. We strive for perfection, prove we are willing to help others, do that extra bit, show consideration, and go out of our way. In other words, we are generous.
This book shows how our nobler traits derive from our need for sex and are, in fact, the best way to get more of it.
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Tor Nørretranders, the author of ten books on topics ranging from the environment to quantum mechanics, is a prominent Danish science writer, television host, and lecturer. His most recent book, THE USER ILLUSION: CUTTING CONSCIOUSNESS DOWN TO SIZE was translated into seven languages.
Jonathan Sydenham translated THE USER ILLUSION into English.
Starred Review. From his first sentence—"Welcome to this book about sex, or, more precisely perhaps, a book about how to get it"—Danish science writer Nørretranders offers his fresh, irreverent take on popular sociobiology (by this point a veritable genre). While deploying the standard tropes—a bit of game theory, descriptions of psychological experiments, some colorful anecdotes from the natural world—he does so in the service of a novel and intriguing perspective: that human generosity, creativity, cooperativeness and cleverness serve the singular evolutionary purpose of making us sexier. According to Nørretranders (The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size), "costly" actions, like sharing one's food and expending valuable energy on artistic pursuits, that don't directly contribute to our survival make us seem stronger and more virile. Rather than trying to transcend our sexual instincts, he claims, we should embrace them. Horniness is good!—it drives us to the limits of our capabilities. Nice guys do finish first!—at least when prospective partners are looking for more than a one-night commitment. And all the best in human endeavor, from open-source software to international medical aid, "everything spiritual, beautiful, and wise is 'merely' an aid to getting laid." (Nov. 7)
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Book Description Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1560257288
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