Rod Hilton's Reviews > The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics

The Mind of the Market by Michael Shermer
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Jun 24, 10

really liked it
bookshelves: business, audiobooks
Read from June 07 to 19, 2010

The Mind of the Market analyzes the free market of capitalism in a manner like evolutionary biology. It's an interesting book, in which Michael Shermer essentially argues that the market works the way it does because of the desires and behaviors of its component parts: people.

Shermer discusses people as independent agents within the system and the ways in which the traditional model of Homo Economicus are mistaken. The book also touches on a bit of morality theory, explaining how and why people behave in an ethical manner. Essentially, the position of the book is that the behavior of the free market can be explained in terms of the evolution of the humans participating in that market.

The book is interesting, short, and informative. Unfortunately, it deals in a lot of well-worn areas, discussing at length the limitations of the human brain and even rehashing a great deal of material from Shermer's other books, most notably The Science of Good and Evil.

The main problem with the book is the same problem with other Shermer books: it never really gels as a cohesive book. Most of the other Shermer books I've read felt like a collection of somewhat-related essays, stapled together into a book. Each chapter is, by itself, a very good read, but whenever I remind myself of the greater context of the book, I often found myself wondering "where is this going? What does this have to do with anything else?" Often, by the end of the chapter I'd understand the reason for the chapters inclusion, but on a few occasions I never felt like I understood why the chapter was included.

Overall, Shermer is a very engaging writer and this is one of his better books, it just has to be read as a collection of related essays rather than a cohesive book with a central thesis being proven over a series of chapters.
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