Book

Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

Cover of the book titled "Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society."

Nicholas A. Christakis, Sterling Professor of Sociology

(Little, Brown and Company)

Drawing on advances in social science, evolutionary biology, genetics, neuroscience, and network science, “Blueprint” attempts to show how and why evolution has placed us on a humane path — and how we are united by our common humanity.

For too long, the author contends, scientists have focused on the dark side of our biological heritage: our capacity for aggression, cruelty, prejudice, and self-interest. But natural selection has given us a suite of beneficial social features, including our capacity for love, friendship, cooperation, and learning. Beneath all our inventions — our tools, farms, machines, cities, nations — we carry with us innate proclivities to make a good society. 

In this book, Nicholas A. Christakis introduces the idea that our genes affect not only our bodies and behaviors, but also the ways in which we make societies, ones that are similar worldwide. With many examples — including diverse historical and contemporary cultures, communities formed in the wake of shipwrecks, commune dwellers seeking utopia, online groups thrown together by design or involving artificially intelligent bots, and even the complex social arrangements of elephants and dolphins that resemble our own — Christakis shows that, despite a human history replete with violence, we cannot escape our social blueprint for goodness. 

By exploring the ancient roots of goodness in civilization, “Blueprint” attempts to show that our genes have shaped societies for our welfare and that societies have shaped, and are still shaping, our genes today.

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