The underlying reason that non-zero-sum games wind up being played well is the same in biological evolution as in cultural evolution. Whether you are a bunch of genes or a bunch of memes, if you're all in the same boat you'll tend to perish unless you are conducive to productive coordination.... Genetic evolution thus tends to create smoothly integrated organisms, and cultural evolution tends to create smoothly integrated groups of organisms.
Admittedly, it's as hard to think clearly about natural selection as it is to think about God, but that makes it just as important to acknowledge our biases and try to exclude them from our conclusions. It is this that makes Nonzero potentially unsatisfying to the scientifically literate. Time after time we've seen thinkers try to find in biological evolution a "drive toward complexity" that might explain all sorts of other phenomena from economics to spirituality. Some authors, like Teilhard de Chardin, have much to offer the careful reader who takes pains to read metaphorically. Others--legions of cranks--provide nothing but opaque diatribes culminating in often-bizarre assertions proven to nobody but the author. Wright is much closer to de Chardin along this axis; his anthropological scholarship is particularly noteworthy, and his grasp of world history is excellent. Unfortunately, he has the advocate's willingness to blind himself to disagreeable facts and to muddle over concepts whose clarity would be poisonous to his positions: try to pin him down on what he means by complexity, for example. Still, his thesis that human cultures are historically striving for cooperative, nonzero-sum situations is heartening and compelling; even though it's not supported by biology, it's not knocked down, either. If the reader can work around the undefined assumptions, Wright's charm and obvious interest in planetary survival make Nonzero a worthy read. If the first chapter's title--"The Ladder of Cultural Evolution"--makes you cringe, the last one--"You Call This a God?"--will make you smile. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Wright's well written, balanced, scholarly book is delightful to read.
Even if Wright happens to be right--and he may be--the lack of a scholarly foundation for his arguments is painfully evident throughout the book.
Zero sum games and nonzero sum games interact in interesting ways that result in the building of complexity.
The book suffers from strong preconceived conclusions. They diminish many other good messages.
The concepts of cultural evolution and arc of history are good by... Read more
You have to read this book, then you are almost pulled into reading it again! Amazing book with beautiful detail!Published 4 months ago by Larex Croft
The author makes good points but goes into more examples than is probably necessary. Very worth the time to read.Published 5 months ago by B. Bartlett
I have recommended this book to others. It covers multiple topics that are very interesting to me. I find the author very witty and his presentation and arguments on each topic... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Dennis Ryan
Robert Wright is an American journalist, scholar, and prize-winning author. In his landmark book `Nonzero - The Logic of Human Destiny'(1) he opens with the following quote from... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Rod Matthews
Nonzero-sum is a Duality.
As C.G.Jung defined it, we can only understand a "duality" by also understanding its opposite; beyond that we need "unity consciousness" to... Read more
The back cover of Robert Wright's book, Nonzero, should be warning enough. There, three professors extol the book which is a professor's dream of obfuscation and making complex... Read morePublished on November 25, 2011 by John Martin
According to Robert Wright, life has a definite direction towards the more complex and towards overall improvement. Read morePublished on October 9, 2011 by bronx book nerd
For me, the ultimate evaluation of a non-fiction book comes from how much the reading of it changes the way you think or behave. Read morePublished on June 26, 2011 by Jeremy McCarthy