“Born to Be Good” by Dacher Keltner (Norton, 2009)

Born to be Goodstarstar

In a time when this world seems a bleak place with suffering and death across the continents, economies plummeting, societies approaching collapse, and a general despair in the air; one has little else to turn to.  But then there’s Born to Be Good.  Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and director of the Greater Good Science Center, presents a book that offers hope in humanity to those who feel there is none.  The first part of the book is spent on the Confucian concept of jen, “which refers to kindness, humanity, and reverence,” as well as Keltner’s thoughts on the Eastern Religions and what they offer in “being good.”  The second part of Born to Be Good is spent researching and delving into the anthropological reasoning behind being a good person, and how it exists intrinsically in our DNA and our species, providing examples in other animals, as well as Homo sapiens.  The last part of the book combines these two spheres of thought into a cohesive whole using what Keltner terms the jen ratio.  Keltner fully believes there is absolute goodness in humanity, and Born to Be Good is an uplifting and enlightening read in these dark and dower times.

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Originally written on January 3rd 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Sacramento Book Review.