The Strange Order of Things Book Summary - The Strange Order of Things Book explained in key points
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The Strange Order of Things summary

Antonio Damasio

Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures

4.3 (97 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

The Strange Order of Things by Antonio Damasio is a fascinating study of how emotions and feelings shape our thinking and behavior. He delves into the significance of homeostasis and the role it plays in our biological and psychological makeup.

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    The Strange Order of Things
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    We underestimate the role of feelings in human development.

    When you first heard the story of how human civilization developed, you might have regarded it as a neat and tidy narrative. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see that this narrative promotes a strange order of things – a story that puts human feelings as secondary to human intellect, when it should really be the other way around.

    This story is misleading. Feelings have, in fact, played a vital role in our development, especially as a feedback mechanism.

    Consider one of the essential functions your body performs: eating. Feelings of hunger and satisfaction provide important information about how the body is doing and they can spur the mind into action if food is needed.

    Other feelings, like pain and curiosity, are what lead the mind to concoct remedies for ailments and solutions for problems. Therefore, it’s feelings that have prompted us to question and better understand the world, as well as come up with innovations to overcome the problems we encounter.

    Thanks to the information and inspiration provided by our feelings, we’ve also excelled in providing ourselves with nourishment, clothing, shelter and medical attention – things that make us healthier, warmer and more secure.

    Feelings don’t just trigger developments, however. The feedback mechanism continues over time and serves as a monitor to judge how well something is working and if it needs improvement.

    Another human advancement that often gets put in the wrong order is our social behavior. We tend to link our cooperative abilities to higher brain function, but, in fact, these instinctual behaviors go back to well before human beings had any bright ideas.

    Scientists have found that social behavior can be seen in bacteria, one of the simplest organisms in our evolutionary history. While these microscopic organisms are emotionless, they do process sensory information about their environment, which is what our own feelings evolved from. And it turns out that this sensory perception is enough to exhibit social behavior.

    In particular, bacteria will join forces and group together in order to build up a defense against threats or to gain access to resources. And if certain members of the group are recognized as freeloaders or simply fail to pull their weight, other bacteria will give them the proverbial cold shoulder and refuse to cooperate with them.

    So feelings are at the heart of today’s social interactions. In the next blink, we’ll take a look at just how those feelings came to be.

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    What is The Strange Order of Things about?

    The Strange Order of Things (2018) takes us through the history of human cultural development while focusing on a motivating factor that often gets overlooked: our feelings. When accounting for the major innovations and developments of the past, we often credit human intelligence more than emotions and feelings. But as author Antonio Damasio argues, it’s our feelings that push us forward, inspire our creative accomplishments and define who we are.

    The Strange Order of Things Review

    The Strange Order of Things (2018) explores the fundamental role of emotions in shaping our thoughts, actions, and overall well-being. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides a fascinating exploration of the intricate connections between emotions, the body, and the brain, offering a fresh perspective on our human nature.
    • Through compelling scientific research and thought-provoking examples, it illuminates the profound impact emotions have on our decision-making and social interactions.
    • The book challenges traditional views by highlighting the importance of emotions for human reasoning and overall flourishing, making it a compelling and thought-provoking read.

    Best quote from The Strange Order of Things

    Images are the universal token of the mind.

    —Antonio Damasio
    example alt text

    Who should read The Strange Order of Things?

    • Neuroscientists, evolutionary biologists, physicians and psychologists
    • Curious minds interested in the emergence of human culture
    • Anyone interested in the power of emotions

    About the Author

    Antonio Damasio is the David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Southern California. He is also director of the school’s Brain and Creativity Institute, where he specializes in researching the processes that govern emotions, feelings and consciousness. His previous books include Descartes’ Error, The Feeling of What Happens, Looking for Spinoza and Self Comes to Mind.

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    The Strange Order of Things FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Strange Order of Things?

    The main message of The Strange Order of Things is that emotions play a crucial role in shaping our lives.

    How long does it take to read The Strange Order of Things?

    The reading time for The Strange Order of Things varies, but it can typically be read in a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Strange Order of Things a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Strange Order of Things is worth reading for its insightful exploration of the relationship between emotions and our overall well-being.

    Who is the author of The Strange Order of Things?

    The author of The Strange Order of Things is Antonio Damasio.

    What to read after The Strange Order of Things?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Strange Order of Things, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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