Non-Fiction Book Suggestions Wanted: June & July 2009

Help us pick our next NON-FICTION book for group discussion here. YOU MUST HAVE 5+ POSTS TO CONTRIBUTE IN THIS FORUM!
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MaryLupin
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Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals by Frans de Waal

http://www.amazon.ca/Good-Natured-Origins-Humans-Animals/dp/0674356608/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239205361&sr=1-1

From Amazon.com
In Good Natured Frans de Waal, ethologist and primatologist, asks us to reconsider human morality in light of moral aspects that can be identified in animals. Within the complex negotiations of human society, a moral action may involve thoughts and feelings of guilt, reciprocity, obligation, expectations, rules, or community concern. De Waal finds these aspects of morality prevalent in other animal societies, mostly primate, and suggests that the two philosophical camps supporting nature and nurture may have to be disbanded in order to adequately understand human morality. A theoretician, de Waal is meticulous in his research, cautious not to extrapolate too much from his findings, and logically sound in his arguments. He also writes with precision and a flair for the dramatic, carrying readers along with graceful ease and vivid examples.

From Publishers Weekly
Is morality a biological or cultural phenomenon? Can nonhuman animals be humane? Primatologist de Waal (Chimpanzee Politics) explores these questions in a provocative book and makes a strong case for biology. He is convinced that social tendencies come into existence via a genetic calculus rather than rational choice. He defends anthropomorphism, noting that it serves the same exploratory function as intuition in the sciences. He discusses aggression and altruism and offers abundant anecdotal evidence of moral behavior among primates and other animals?food sharing, protection, sympathy, guilt. De Waal argues that the remarkable trainability among certain species, e.g., sheepdogs and elephants, hints at a rule-based order among them. He takes issue with the animal rights movement; rights, he says, are normally accompanied by responsibilities, which cannot possibly apply to apes and other animals.
I've always found it rather exciting to remember that there is a difference between what we experience and what we think it means.
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tarav
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I like Mary Lupin's suggestion of Good Natured!
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Chris OConnor
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Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals
Grandin, Dr. Temple and Johnson, Catherine

The best-selling animal advocate Temple Grandin offers the most exciting exploration of how animals feel since The Hidden Life of Dogs. In her groundbreaking and best-selling book Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin drew on her own experience with autism as well as her distinguished career as an animal scientist to deliver extraordinary insights into how animals think, act, and feel. Now she builds on those
insights to show us how to give our animals the best and happiest life—on their terms, not ours.

It's usually easy to pinpoint the cause of physical pain in animals, but to know what is causing them emotional distress is much harder. Drawing on the latest research and her own work, Grandin identifies the core emotional needs of animals. Then she explains how to fulfill them for dogs and cats, horses, farm animals, and zoo animals. Whether it's how to make the healthiest environment for the dog you must leave alone most of the day, how to keep pigs from being bored, or how to know if the lion pacing in the zoo is miserable or just exercising, Grandin teaches us to challenge our assumptions about animal contentment and honor our bond with our fellow creatures. Animals Make Us Human is the culmination of almost thirty years of research, experimentation, and experience. This is essential reading for anyone who's ever owned, cared for, or simply cared about an animal.

[hr]

This morning I read an article about Temple Grandin, the author of the above book, and I immediately felt drawn towards getting to know more about her and her work on improving the lives of animals. Being an animal lover myself I have always felt disgusted at how much humans appear to lack compassion and empathy for other living creatures.

Have you ever watched a slaughterhouse video and seen how cows and pigs and chickens are treated from birth to the day of slaughter? It is appalling and will turn your stomach, if you have even half a heart, and perhaps this is why so few people ever subject themselves to experiencing the reality of the slaughterhouse. Temple Grandin was interviews in this mornings St. Petersburg Times about her love of animals and work to get slaughterhouses to treat animals more humanely. The fascinating thing is Temple Grandin has autism.

[hr]

We desperately need FEEDBACK on the suggestions contained in this thread. If I don't have feedback within a few days I'm forced to create a poll blindly, adding to the poll books I think are best, and not the books we all collectively want to read and discuss as a group. It makes it very difficult to make smart decisions for the community without any sort of feedback. Once the polls go up if you haven't given plenty of feedback on the book suggestions in this thread you will have no room for complaint about what books appear on the poll.
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Saffron
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I am very interested in reading Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals by Dr. Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson. I will still make a suggestion - here is mine:

Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart A. Kauffman


Amazon link

From Publishers Weekly
Kauffman, a complexity theorist at the University of Calgary, sets a huge task for himself in this provocative but difficult book: to find common ground between religion and science by redefining God as not a supernatural Creator but as the natural creativity in the universe. That creativity, says Kauffman, defies scientific assumptions that the biosphere's evolution and human activity can be reduced to physics and are fully governed by natural laws. Kauffman (At Home in the Universe) espouses emergence, the theory of how complex systems self-organize into entities that are far more than the sum of their parts. To bolster the idea of this ceaselessly creative and unpredictable nature, Kauffman draws examples from the biosphere, neurobiology and economics.
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Saffron
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I see I have done this backwards, posting without reading the whole thread. There are plenty of suggestions, what Chris was calling for was more feedback on the suggestions already made.

I'll stick with my suggestion of Reinventing the Sacred. I think it is a nice follow-up to God is Not Great (which I have not read, but have been following the discussion).

I also like the Temple Grandin book -- been meaning to read her for a while now. I'd also vote for The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach and Descartes's Error by Antonio Damasio and Good Natured the De Waal book.

I promise, if I vote I will read and participate in the discussion. With any luck, I will be in a new house by the end of June with a bit more time on my hands.
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Boheme
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I saw her interviewed on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and would love to discuss her book. Her personal story of being autistic and nonethless achieving what she has is inspiring in and of itself, not to mention her important work in animal care and behaviour.
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Chris OConnor
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Mary, please narrow it down to one or two suggestions.
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Chris OConnor
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I'm locking this thread and creating a poll very soon. There have been far fewer feedback posts than expected so choosing books for the poll is not going to be easy. No books will appear on the poll that didn't get feedback beyond the initial suggestion post.
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Chris OConnor
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The books that will appear on the poll are....


1. Good Natured

2. Animals Make Us Human

3. Descartes Error
Locked