The most fundamental aspects of our lives—from leadership and innovation to aggression and happiness—were permanently altered by the "social leap" our ancestors made from the rainforest to the savannah. Their struggle to survive on the open grasslands required a shift from individualism to a new form of collectivism, which forever altered the way our mind works. It changed the way we fight and our proclivity to make peace, it changed the way we lead and the way we follow, it made us innovative but not inventive, it created a new kind of social intelligence, and it led to new sources of life satisfaction.
In The Social Leap, William von Hippel lays out this revolutionary hypothesis, tracing human development through three critical evolutionary inflection points to explain how events in our distant past shape our lives today. From the mundane, such as why we exaggerate, to the surprising, such as why we believe our own lies and why fame and fortune are as likely to bring misery as happiness, the implications are far reaching and extraordinary.
Blending anthropology, biology, history, and psychology with evolutionary science, The Social Leap is a fresh and provocative look at our species that provides new clues about who we are, what makes us happy, and how to use this knowledge to improve our lives.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Part I How We Became Who We Are
1 Expelled from Eden 19
2 Out of Africa 35
3 Crops, Cities, and Kings 60
4 Sexual Selection and Social Comparison 86
Part II Leveraging the Past to Understand the Present
5 Homo Socialis 105
6 Homo Innovatio 138
7 Elephants and Baboons 164
8 Tribes and Tribulations 186
Part III Using Knowledge of the Past to Build a Better Future
9 Why Evolution Gave Us Happiness 213
10 Finding Happiness in Evolutionary Imperatives 227