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Altruism & Altruistic Love: Science, Philosophy & Religion in Dialogue [Hardcover]

Stephen Garrard Post , Lynn G. Underwood , Jeffrey Schloss , William B. Hurlbut
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 28, 2002 0195143582 978-0195143584 1
The concept of altruism, or disinterested concern for another's welfare, has been discussed by everyone from theologians to psychologists to biologists. In this book, evolutionary, neurological, developmental, psychological, social, cultural, and religious aspects of altruistic behavior are examined. It is a collaborative examination of one of humanity's essential and defining characteristics by renowned researchers from various disciplines. Their integrative dialogue illustrates that altruistic behavior is a significant mode of expression that can be studied by various scholarly methods and understood from a variety of perspectives in both the humanities and the sciences. Altruism and Altruistic Love establishes a framework for scholarship on altruism by presenting definitions, a historical overview, a review of contemporary research, and debates in various disciplines, as well as a discussion of directions for future work.

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"My brief review cannot do justice to a book of this magnitude. This is a sincere and scholarly effort to build dialogue where there has been very little. Though dense, it is well written and well edited. ... There is a remarkable amount of continuity and coherence for an edited volume. For researchers on topics such as altruism, volunteering, and organizational citizenship behavior, this volume provides a rich and eclectic trove of ideas and reference material."--Personnel Psychology


"This comprehensive overview of current research and thinking about altruism as a vital ethical concern in human affairs is must reading and valuable source material for serious students of these problems."--Theological Studies


"The concept of altruism, or other-centered love and concern, continues to be a critical point of intersection for scientists, ethicists and theologians. Altruism and Altruistic Love (2002) attempts to address the variety of approaches to this multidisciplinary issue. Stephen Post, a Science & Theology News columnist, and colleagues offer profound and inspiring essays that explore the way we think about human altruistic behavior."--Science & Theology News


"My brief review cannot do justice to a book of this magnitude. This is a sincere and scholarly effort to build dialogue where there has been very little. Though dense, it is well written and well edited. ... There is a remarkable amount of continuity and coherence for an edited volume. For researchers on topics such as altruism, volunteering, and organizational citizenship behavior, this volume provides a rich and eclectic trove of ideas and reference material." --Personnel Psychology


"This comprehensive overview of current research and thinking about altruism as a vital ethical concern in human affairs is must reading and valuable source material for serious students of these problems."--Theological Studies


"The concept of altruism, or other-centered love and concern, continues to be a critical point of intersection for scientists, ethicists and theologians. Altruism and Altruistic Love (2002) attempts to address the variety of approaches to this multidisciplinary issue. Stephen Post, a Science & Theology News columnist, and colleagues offer profound and inspiring essays that explore the way we think about human altruistic behavior."--Science & Theology News


"Altogether, the book is a highly interesting read on diverse perspectives on the topic of altruistic love....[T]his collection of essays comes a long way in making a case for unselfish behavior that is as much grounded in cogent philosophical analysis as it is informed by modern evolutionary theory."--Human Nature Review


About the Author

Stephen G. Post is at The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love. Lynn G. Underwood is at Fetzer Institute.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 522 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195143582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195143584
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lynn Underwood has published widely in areas such as quality of life, cancer, stress, compassionate love, and the understanding of ordinary experiences in a multicultural context. The website for her recent book is www.spiritualconnectionindailylife.com . Originally trained in medicine, she holds a PhD in epidemiology, is an elected member of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine, and was awarded a Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress. She has directed foundation programs and developed projects with the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health. Her consulting practice helps organizations with research, strategy and program evaluation, and she lectures and facilitates workshops.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richly Diverse Essays on Other-Regard August 31, 2004
Format:Hardcover
This volume includes the work of some of the leading figures in the science and religion love dialogue. The essays are the product of a conference entitled "Empathy, Altruism and Agape: Perspectives on Love in Science and Religion." Major funding for this 1999 conference came from the John Templeton Foundation and John Fetzer Institute.

"It is in the context of the dialogue between science, philosophy and spiritual traditions that this book addresses various views of the roles of altruism and egoism," writes editor Stephen G. Post (5). " Our intent in this book is to grapple honestly with current scientific questions about the existence of genuine altruism and to explore the nature of human other regarding motives and acts" (6). Among the tasks that the book addresses is the effort to understand better the emergence of altruism and empathy and how these contribute a greater capacity to love.

The book is organized into five sections. In the first, four essayists wrestle with the definitions of altruism, agape, and love. Elliott Sober defines altruistic behavior in his essay as enhancing the fitness of someone else at some cost in fitness to the donor. Sober's own position on the emergence of altruism and egoism is a pluralistic one in the sense that Sober recognizes that humans and other organisms have both egoistic and altruistic inclinations. Edith Wyschogrod writes as a phenomenologist who claims that moral experience begins with a claim upon the self to engage in other regarding acts. In this sense ethical meaning arises in the encounter with another human. Jerome Kagan, a psychologist, asserts that the human being is utterly unique emergent from evolution with a moral sense. It was with the evolution of the human brain that humans could evaluate vice and virtue.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The concept of altruism, or disinterested concern for another's welfare, is a common human characteristic, and has been discussed by everyone from theologians to biologists. This volume brings together renowned researchers from various disciplines to examine the evolutionary, neurological, developmental, psychological, social, cultural, and religious aspects of altruistic behavior.

Altruism is most famously recognized as occurring within a biological family, often called kin-altruism. However in human societies altruism goes well beyond mere familial relations and is "widely lauded and is commonly considered the foundation for a moral life." (pg. 3) Altruism is recognized as affirmation and care for another person for their own benefit, regardless of how their benefit impinges upon one's own success.

But can true altruism be explained under evolutionary theory? E.O. Wilson claims that "Human behavior--like the deep capacities for emotional response which derive and guide it--is the circuitous technique by which human genetic material has been and will be kept intact. Morality has no other demonstrable function." Under this account, real altruism does not exist, for there is always some mechanistically based "selfish" behavior guiding any altruistic act.

For example, Darwinian philosopher Michael Ruse argues that a Darwinian interpretation of social behavior and of the morality that underlies it requires that they be reproductively beneficial. Thus Ruse writes that "all organisms including ourselves are the products of evolution" and "animal behavior must itself be subject to natural selection." (pg.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for a gift January 5, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book for a gift. The title was requested by my son. I'm sure I was shopping for condition and value.
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