Wilkinson finds the book lacking:
“The story of Harold and Erica does not really illustrate a new, coherent, science-based theory of human nature. It is a bowl hammered from Brooks’ philosophic predilections into which a jumbled stew of scientific anecdotes is poured.”
Well, Brooks is a fairly conservative (moderately, as I’ve heard it put by those who no longer read his pieces at the NY Times) cultural critic with an interest in the social sciences. Wilkinson continues:
“Brooks’ characters are constantly saying and thinking the sort of thing Brooks says and thinks in his opinion columns. They’re constantly made to express what are quite clearly elements of the author’s conception of human nature, sociality, and political life. But this stuff often has little or nothing to do with the “revolutionary” discoveries Brooks says he’s attempting to pull together into a coherent conception of human nature, sociality, and political life”
“I suspect Brooks really does thinks thumos is an essential part of the best big-picture theory of human nature and the good society. But that’s an idea he took from the science-wary Allan Bloom and Harvey Mansfield, not Robert Trivers or David Buss or Geoffrey Miller.”
As before, perhaps it’s worth pointing out that the way in which Brooks goes about analyzing and understanding culture, our relationships to one another, our interior lives etc….is ostensibly through the lens of his understanding of the social sciences. Perhaps he adds nothing new to the debate?
Charlie Rose has a full interview with Brooks and his new book.
Also On This Site: Part of a larger move away from religion…toward social liberalism…libertarianism…liberaltarianism?: Will Wilkinson And Jonah Goldberg On Bloggingheads: Updating Libertarianism?…A hip, more diverse conservatism?: RealClearPolitics reviews Grand New Party here….From Will Wilkinson-A Response To Kay Hymowitz: ‘The “Menaissance” and Its Dickscontents’…
Morals have roots in emotions…neuroscience toward Hume?: Jesse Prinz Discusses “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” On Bloggingheads
Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’…Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’
-Does Leo Strauss effectively offer a way around what he saw as an uncessary removal of religious thinking from moral philosophy…do you need the esotericism?: Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’
-Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…