Retired engineer Karan (Health and Medical Care, 2019, etc.) breaks down human behavior and personality in this nonfiction work that’s part of a series on human wellness.
It’s easy to attribute certain tendencies to “human nature,” but what does that phrase actually mean? “By nature, all humans are alike, but practice sets them apart,” Karan explains early in this book. “A loving person loves to live in a loving world, a hostile person in a hostile world, and a monk among the monks.” The author takes the many aspects of human nature—personality, ambition, memory, and even laughter and song—and offers a lengthy discussion on each. He includes references to scientific research, as well as historical perspectives, cultural associations, psychological schemas, and some of his own personal impressions. He begins with the age-old battle of “nature versus nurture,” and Karan’s argument addresses the complexity of humanity itself: the immense power of the natural world, the limits of logic and rationality, and the myriad influences that go into shaping each one of us. Over the course of this book, Karan’s prose is lively and generally authoritative. However, he sometimes lapses into Walt Whitman-esque paeans to Mother Nature that feel a bit out of place: “The treasures hidden in nature are so rich! She makes us rich….We learn from her. Nature is our teacher!” At nearly 500 pages in length, the book is truly wide-ranging, covering everything from the effects of social media on happiness to different therapy strategies to the various types of lying (including “fabrication,” “bluffing,” and “manipulation”). There are plenty of books on this the topic of human nature that might appeal more to a general readership, but readers who are looking a bit more energy and a dash of spiritualism may find Karan’s work to be a good option.
An idiosyncratic but informative volume on why we do the things we do.