Richard Smith's Reviews > The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

The Social Animal by David  Brooks
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Mar 25, 12

Read in March, 2012

I haven't really read this book. Rather I've read a sample that I could download to my Kindle for free. That sample has fascinated me, and I'm wondering about reading the whole book.
The central argument is that we are not rational at all but driven by all sorts of patterns and impulses and that if we recognise that and go with it we can live a good life. So what might be called our "unconscious" is not a Freudian swamp full of demons but a much pleasanter place.
I did wonder if I was being sold a bill of goods, but supposedly the book is based firmly on neuroscience. It's certainly very readable.
I collected many quotes from the book:



“All information processing is emotional in that emotion is the energy that drives, organises, amplifies and attenuates cognitive activity and in turn is the experience and expression of this activity.” Kenneth Dodge

We are primarily wanderers not decision makers. We wander across an environment of people and possibilities.

Reason and emotion are not separate and opposed. Reason is nestled upon emotion.

People who lack emotion don't lead well planned logical lives...They lead foolish lives.


Men normally spend two thirds of their conversational time talking about themselves.

Adults on average know 60 000 words, but 4000 account for 98 per cent of conversation.

If you are living a life in two or more languages you have an advantage over me.

People generally overestimate how distint their own lives are.

Each inch of height corresponds to $6000 of annual salary in contemporary America.

The conscious mind merely confabulates stories that try to make sense of what the unconscious mind is doing of its own accord.
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