Cruelty: Human Evil and the Human Brain

Kathleen Turner

Cruelty: Human Evil and the Human Brain

In this thoughtful exploration of a painful subject, Kathleen Taylor seeks to bring together the fruits of work in psychology, sociology, and her own field of neuroscience to shed light on the nature of cruelty and what makes human beings cruel. The question of cruelty is inevitably tied to questions of moral philosophy, the nature of evil, free will and responsibility. Taylor's approach is ambitious, but little work has been done in this area and this wide-ranging discussion, considering the roles of emotion, belief, identity and 'otherizing'; evolved instincts and differences in brains; callousness and sadism; seeks to begin to identify how we might reduce or limit cruelty in our societies by a greater understanding of its causes, and the circumstances in which it can grow. 4.2 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
Cruelty: Human Evil and the Human Brain

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Psychology & Psychiatry, Society, Politics & Philosophy
Format Hardback
Pages 288
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication February 2009
ISBN 978-0199552627
Publisher OUP
 

In this thoughtful exploration of a painful subject, Kathleen Taylor seeks to bring together the fruits of work in psychology, sociology, and her own field of neuroscience to shed light on the nature of cruelty and what makes human beings cruel. The question of cruelty is inevitably tied to questions of moral philosophy, the nature of evil, free will and responsibility. Taylor's approach is ambitious, but little work has been done in this area and this wide-ranging discussion, considering the roles of emotion, belief, identity and 'otherizing'; evolved instincts and differences in brains; callousness and sadism; seeks to begin to identify how we might reduce or limit cruelty in our societies by a greater understanding of its causes, and the circumstances in which it can grow.

Reviews

The Guardian

Steven Rose

[A] wise and timely book... Cruelty is a brave attempt to come to terms with one of the foulest of human traits. Taylor is surely right that any explanation will need to include biological as well as social accounts. And it will also need to explain why most of us for most of the time are not cruel, and do not abuse or murder our lovers, children, passers-by in the street, or those with a different skin colour or religion... Those in search of a single unifying theory are likely to be disappointed.

18/04/2009

Read Full Review


The Financial Times

Julian Baggini

...a readable and comprehensive survey of contemporary understanding of cruelty. It is also, however, deeply disquieting. When reading this book, I had the awkward realisation that, at times when my interest in the details of how the brain worked was flagging, a grisly example of violent behaviour woke me up.

16/03/2009

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore