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Publisher's Summary

This is a book about 10 "Great Ideas". Each chapter is an attempt to savor one idea that has been discovered by several of the world's civilizations - to question it in light of what we now know from scientific research, and to extract from it the lessons that still apply to our modern lives.
©2006 Jonathan Haidt; (P)2007 Gildan Media
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Critic Reviews

"I don't think I've ever read a book that laid out the comtemporary understanding of the human condition with such simple clarity and sense." (The Guardian, UK)
"A delightful some margin the most intellectually substantial book to arise from the 'positive psychology' movement." (Nature)
"Fascinating stuff, accessibly expressed." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By David on 01-25-07

Exceptional synthesis of psychology and philosophy

The publisher's title for and capsule summary of "The Happiness Hypothesis" doesn't do full justice to the exceptional range of learning, research, and wisdom that combine in this book. It's not pop psychology or a generic self-help book: Haidt is a professor in the Psychology Department at the U. of Virginia, and a leading researcher in the "moral emotions". His working hypothesis is that human moral systems have underpinnings in evolutionary biology, but he's as far from being a reductionist as possible. Instead he believes it's impossible to understand morality, and by extension happiness, without examining their history in human cultures and religions.

Haidt covers a tremendous range of interwoven topics: the history of Western moral philosophy; ideas of virtue and the sacred in Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism; child development and parent-child bonding in relation to the moral emotions; modern neuroscience and the biological foundations of behavior; and the role of trauma and adversity in personal growth. He is especially gifted at explaining things in everyday language, avoiding jargon and carefully defining and illustrating new terminology.

George Wilson's narration is clear and paced appropriately, and he's solid on technical terms, foreign names, and so on. He gets a chance now and then to show his skill in creating voices for extended quotations from Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and William James.

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179 of 181 people found this review helpful

By Tonny on 03-12-09

You must read this book

It's not really a self help book at all, it's more like a guide to the human brain, if you ever wonder why you think you are so much different then everybody else, this book will explain why you are not and why you are almost exactly like the rest of us, it also tells us what brain functions make us believe in religion, and so much more, I rate this book a must read, even if you have no knowledge about brain anatomy and functions.
The book offers some insight into early philosophy and it draws parallels to modern brain research, but that part is just publicity.
Other must read books Phantoms in the brain Ramachandran, origin of species Darwin

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66 of 69 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Phillistein on 02-22-08

Different, leads you to new understandings

I loved this audiobook. Though it is long, it is never boring and I found myself hanging on for the next passage. This marries neuroscience, psychology and spiritual teachings from many sources. It is full of Eureka moments where I learned the how and why and the processes whereby we make decisions and judgments. I particularly liked the discussion of unconscious decision making. Very highly recommended

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24 of 24 people found this review helpful

By Adrian on 02-19-09


A wonderful insight into what it is to be human. The best guide on how to achieve happiness that I have ever read, and it really breaks new ground in that it is based on good science. This is not pop-psych motivational book, it provides the reader with an understanding of how the brain works, and how to apply this knowledge to the pursuit of happiness. Be warned - this book will challenge your current beliefs especially your confidence that you see the naked truth about anything...

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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By Ross McDougall on 10-31-17

thinking about thinking

this was a really cool look into the psychology of happiness, worth and the concept of meaning.

It was cool to look at such concepts from a scientific perspective; understanding the various neuro-transmitters and messages that fly around in our brains all the time without us being aware it's happening.

When you start to think about how you think it opens up a whole new perspective on emotion, life, joy, sadness and everything else on the spectrum. I really enjoyed going on the journey with Haidt as he took me through the various responses to events and actions that we deal with every day.

I particularly liked the linking of old spiritual concepts to scientific evidence. Not all of them stood up but it was nice to see that spirituality as a whole can have a legitimate place in the human experience to help us as we navigate our time above ground.

It was also pleasant to see Haidt never being dismissive of a particular experience or process - He merely provides the practical application within the psyche and allows the reader to determine where that sits on their personal compass.

Very cool! Highly recommended!

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By Despina on 06-27-16


Would you try another book written by Jonathan Haidt or narrated by George K. Wilson?

I'd definitely try another book written by Jonathan Haidt, but never one narrated by George K. Wilson. These 'professional' narrators are horrendous! They read with no feeling for the material, and often their voices are over-polished and insufferable to listen to.

Has The Happiness Hypothesis put you off other books in this genre?


Who might you have cast as narrator instead of George K. Wilson?

Jonathan Haidt. Having listened to quite a few audiobooks now, I've found that the author is the best person to read their own work.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?


Any additional comments?

Unless the non-author narrator is exceptional in the sample audio, this is the last time I listen to a book not read by the author him/herself.

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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