In this engagingly written and deeply insightful book, bestselling author Mark Matousek explores a perennially troubling question: How can we be both good and evil?
Contrary to what we’ve been taught in our reason-obsessed culture, argues Matousek, emotions are the bedrock of ethical life; without them, human beings cannot be empathic, moral, or good. But how do we make the judgment call between self-interest and caring for others? What does being good really mean? Which parts of morality are biological, which ethical? When should instinct be trusted and when does it lead us into trouble? How can we know ourselves to be good amidst the hypocrisy, fears, and sabotaging appetites that pervade our two-sided natures?
Drawing on the latest scientific research and interviews with social scientists, spiritual leaders, ex-cons, altruists, and philosophers, Matousek examines morality from all angles in this thoroughly entertaining and helpful guide to crossing one’s own murky moral terrain.
Excerpted from Ethical Wisdom by Mark Matousek. Copyright © 2012 by Mark Matousek. Excerpted by permission of Anchor, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
“Mark Matousek guides us through a revolution in ethical science with deft, thought-provoking style. Ethical Wisdom is a riveting, fun, and insightful tour of life’s meaning and purpose, essential reading for anyone drawn to the query, ‘How ought we to live?’”
—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“Mark Matousek has done some magic: he has written an informed, intelligent, humorous, insightful, and juicy book on ethics. You’ll enjoy this book and maybe become a better person because of it.”
—Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul
“I don’t know how he has done it, but Mark Matousek has written a book about being good without being moralistic or judgmental. Ethical Wisdom is a call to our higher selves. Read it!”
—Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues
“This broad-ranging book is remarkable for its emotional intensity, and for its message of redemption; it is a delineation of hope itself.”
—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon
“Bringing together the best of today’s scientific research with a plainspoken forthrightness, Ethical Wisdom does what few books of this type can do: it inspires.”
—Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts without a Thinker
“Ethical Wisdom is a unique delight—a fascinating, enlightening, and adventurous romp through the territories of philosophy, psychology, science, and spirituality. Mark Matousek has pulled off a most difficult task: he has written an intellectually rigorous and expansive book that is also beautiful and funny and inspiring.”
—Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of Omega Institute and author of Broken Open
“This book springs from the latest research on biology [and] some of the oldest human wisdom. Both are interesting, and together they are potent.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth
“Ethical Wisdom provides tremendous insight into our collective and individual psyches. Like GPS for the soul, it is a necessary guide for human evolution, and survival, in the 21st century.”
—Peter Buffett, founder of the NoVo Foundation and author of Life is What You Make It
“Engaging, thought provoking, and enlightening . . . this book acts as an insider’s guide to what makes us tick, and gently prompts us to look in the mirror and at our place in the great pond of life. A must read for anyone interested in making the world a better place.”
—John P. Forsyth, Ph.D., coauthor of Your Life on Purpose