A distinguished science writer scrutinizes how certain behaviors demonstrated across species resonate with human values.
This is a book that could actually change readers' assumptions, opinions and beliefs about the differences between Homo sapiens and other animals. Peterson (Elephant Reflections, 2009, etc.), who has traveled the world with leading primatologists such as Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal, distills their findings, and, using his own observations, argues that animals share many traits we may think of as exclusively human. After cross-culturally defining various moral concepts and their sources, the author examines attributes where morality may manifest, such as sex, violence, kindness and cooperation. Peterson traces an ambitious and exciting arc between gender relations, hierarchal authoritarian structures, ownership and displays of affiliation, and proposes that we have veered from Darwin’s findings that we are not unique, and that our fellow creatures have much higher order of feelings then we might be comfortable with. Sharing fascinating anecdotes about elephants, whales and primates, Peterson highlights the unity rather than diversity of social structures around sharing food, intimacy, competition for resources, grooming, mourning and dominance.
A thorough and sophisticated book, yet accessible and enjoyable even for those with little previous exposure to the topic.