Not So Different

Finding Human Nature in Animals

Nathan H. Lents

Columbia University Press

Not So Different

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Pub Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780231178334

368 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $26.00£20.00

Pub Date: May 2016

ISBN: 9780231178327

368 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.00

Pub Date: May 2016

ISBN: 9780231541756

368 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $25.99£20.00

Not So Different

Finding Human Nature in Animals

Nathan H. Lents

Columbia University Press

Animals fall in love, establish rules for fair play, exchange valued goods and services, hold "funerals" for fallen comrades, deploy sex as a weapon, and communicate with one another using rich vocabularies. Animals also get jealous and violent or greedy and callous and develop irrational phobias, just like us. Monkeys address inequality, wolves miss each other, elephants grieve for their dead, and prairie dogs name the humans they encounter. Human and animal behavior is not as different as once believed.

In Not So Different, the biologist Nathan H. Lents argues that the same evolutionary forces of cooperation and competition have shaped both humans and animals. Identical emotional and instinctual drives govern our actions. By acknowledging this shared programming, the human experience no longer seems unique, but in that loss we gain a fuller appreciation of such phenomena as sibling rivalry and the biological basis of grief, helping us lead more grounded, moral lives among animals, our closest kin. Through a mix of colorful reporting and rigorous scientific research, Lents describes the exciting strides scientists have made in decoding animal behavior and bringing the evolutionary paths of humans and animals closer together. He marshals evidence from psychology, evolutionary biology, cognitive science, anthropology, and ethology to further advance this work and to drive home the truth that we are distinguished from animals only in degree, not in kind.
Not So Different lucidly and entertainingly reminds us just how much of us there is in other mammals and vertebrates—and how much of them there is in us. You may never think of yourself in quite the same way again. Ian Tattersall, American Museum of Natural History
In a beautifully written and very readable book, Nathan H. Lents provides compelling evidence that animals are not that different from us, making it difficult to argue that there is a vast gulf between us and the rest of the animals. As Lents artfully shows, that gulf just does not exist. Con Slobodchikoff, author of Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals
As someone who has studied animal behavior and cognitive ethology and animal emotions for many decades, I have always been fascinated by the similarities and differences between humans and other animals. In Not So Different, Nathan H. Lents focuses on the similarities, and readers will discover that humans and nonhumans share numerous traits, some of which might seem rather surprising, but the existence of which can be readily explained by well-accepted evolutionary arguments and considerations of the social worlds of the animals involved, something Lents does very well. Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and Rewilding our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence
Nathan H. Lents has put together a comprehensive look at animal counterparts of human emotions and thoughts. The scope and quantity of his examples make a compelling argument for zoological precursors to nearly all human sentiments and many cognitive capabilities. His book is a charming read for general audiences that will also find value in the biology courses of high school and university curricula. Joan Roughgarden, author of Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People
Thoroughly enjoyable and accessible.... Whether Lents is discussing love, grief, greed, or envy, he provides ample evidence that animals have a rich inner life. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Offer[s] us an insightful summary of the recent state of the fields of ethology and animal cognition from practicing scientists who approach animals with generosity and open-mindedness. Such work is essential for helping to reverse classical conceptions of animality. Matthew Calarco, This Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Emotions, Drives, and the Brain
1. Why Do We Play?
2. Animal Systems of Justice
3. Moral Animals
4. Sexual Politics
5. Do Animals Fall in Love?
6. The Agony of Grief
7. Jealous Beasts: The Dark Side of Love
8. Darker Still: Envy, Greed, and Power
9. Afraid of the Dark
10. The Richness of Animal Communication
Epilogue: Metacognition, Self-awareness, and the Mind
Notes
Index

Read an excerpt from the Introduction:

About the Author

Nathan H. Lents is professor of biology and director of the Macaulay Honors College at John Jay College, part of the City University of New York. He is the author of Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes (2018). Lents also maintains the Human Evolution Blog and writes for Psychology Today under the tagline “Beastly Behavior: How Evolution Shaped Our Minds and Bodies.”