The Way We Are (Hardcover)
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393062144, 144pp.
Publication Date: August 17, 2006
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This brief book, containing a lifetime of wisdom and experience, challenges our cherished assumptions about human nature.
Allen Wheelis starts from the premise that human beings do not know themselves because deception—including self-deception—is not only a strategy for survival, it is the basis of the social contract whereby man trades his individual freedom for the security of a tribe or state. Are we really motivated by ideals such as freedom, equality, and justice? In fact these are only distractions useful to the state, which demands conscience of us but is itself above all moral constraints, seeking only power. Were we to understand or dwell on our individual mortality, we would not be willing to make the necessary sacrifices or participate in the bloody business of the group.
This unsparing map of the human condition is presented in hypnotic prose and illustrated by vivid fictional narratives. Unsparing as it is, the book finds its way to an episode of transcendent love, for this too is part of the way we are.