The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society by Frans De Waal

The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society

byFrans De Waal

Kobo ebook | September 22, 2009

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In this thought-provoking book, the acclaimed author of Our Inner Ape examines how empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans.

Are we our brothers' keepers? Do we have an instinct for compassion? Or are we, as is often assumed, only on earth to serve our own survival and interests?

By studying social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution, Frans de Waal demonstrates that animals–and humans–are "preprogrammed to reach out." He has found that chimpanzees care for mates that are wounded by leopards, elephants offer "reassuring rumbles" to youngsters in distress, and dolphins support sick companions near the water's surface to prevent them from drowning. From day one humans have innate sensitivities to faces, bodies, and voices; we've been designed to feel for one another.

De Waal's theory runs counter to the assumption that humans are inherently selfish, which can be seen in the fields of politics, law, and finance. But he cites the public's outrage at the U.S. government's lack of empathy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a significant shift in perspective–one that helped Barack Obama become elected and ushered in what may well become an Age of Empathy. Through a better understanding of empathy's survival value in evolution, de Waal suggests, we can work together toward a more just society based on a more generous and accurate view of human nature.

Written in layman's prose with a wealth of anecdotes, wry humor, and incisive intelligence, The Age of Empathy is essential reading for our embattled times.

"An important and timely message about the biological roots of human kindness."
—Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape
Title:The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder SocietyFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:September 22, 2009Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307462528

ISBN - 13:9780307462527

Customer Reviews of The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society


Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fish out of water's observations of dry land Frans de Waal is a fish out of water or perhaps as a Dutchman in the United States. This slight incongruence makes him a perfect observer of not only of his research primates but also of American and more generally western society. In the Age of Empathy, de Waal introduces the notion that empathy rather than aggression or competition gave humans the leg up on our primate competition. Mother child bonding, social bonding and troupe/tribe bonding created an unbeatable combination of intelligence, communication, cooperation and competition that has made man (in a gender neutral sort of way) the dominant species on the planet. De Waal’s premise is that empathy pre-dates our species by many millions of years of evolution and that empathy is not a purely human emotion. The linkage to organizational biology is readily apparent. Adeptness of an organization is at least partially a function of empathy and group cohesion.
Date published: 2015-01-17