Deb's Reviews > Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition, and Complexity are Revolutionizing our View of Human Nature

Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life by Douglas T. Kenrick
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's review
Jun 14, 2012

really liked it
Read in June, 2012

**Simple rules make us profoundly human**

Weaving together the insights of the three interdisciplinary movements of cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, and dynamical systems theory, Douglas Kenrick reveals the simple rules explaining some of our most complex human behaviors. His fascinating journey illuminating human drives, emotions, and behaviors is grounded in the following basic principles:
1. Simple selfish rules—looking at human behavior through an evolutionary context reveals a collection of simple and selfish rules that underly our every day decisions as well as human behaviors, including artistic creativity, economic consumption, religion, politics, courtship, and sex.
2. Simple rules do not mean simple people—our brains are composed of multiple subselves (the team player, the go-getter, the night watchman, the compulsive, the swinging single, the good spouse) which creatively adapt to environmental circumstances to help us think and behave in ways that minimize threats and maximize opportunities.
3. Simple does not mean irrational—although our behaviors may seem irrational at first glance, the simple rules from which we operate are actually based in deep rationality.
4. Selfish rules do not create selfish people—although the simple rules inside our heads serve selfish ends and promote our individual reproductive success, they are also what allow us to create satisfying and meaningful relationships which ultimately maximize our long-term genetic success.
5. Simple rules rules unfold into social complexity—these simple rules operating in our individual minds collectively influence the shape and structure of our larger social networks, and produce the complexities of human society, including religion, politics, and economics.

By helping us understand the simple rules that make us profoundly human, Kenrick's book can bring us a few steps closer to deciphering the enigma of the meaning of life (while providing quite a few laughs along the way).
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