Top positive review
A gentle and cultivated guide
on September 25, 2002
Reason For Hope outlines Jane Goodall's life and her philosophy, and provides a summary of what she believes, why she believes it, and how she came to believe it. I was a bit skeptical when I began this book, but quickly became a convert to much of Ms Goodall's philosophy and outlook when it became rather obvious that her insights were tested by, and developed through, the many trials of her life as a scientist and a publicist. Goodall gives a charming and succinct view of how her interests in primatology developed, how she remained positive despite personal tragedy and the environmental depradations in her beloved Africa, and why we should cultivate a concern about life.
I was most impressed by how Ms Goodall's insights were carefully nurtured through intense patience and keen observation. She does not come by her insights cheaply, and has made an enviable blend of rationalism and empiricism. She notes many similarities between humanity and the higher primates, such as an innate cruelty (which can be overridden, but only with difficulty), an understandable but often fiercely destructive "herd mentality," and a tendency to favor optimism and joyfulness in our acquaintances. She makes a convincing argument that an appreciation of other life forms can enhance --not degrade-- our humanity. Finally, Ms Goodall argues that each one of us can make a positive difference in how we live, for the betterment of ourselves and others.
I was impressed with how this productive and innovative scientist shows how science can be ethically progressive and "spiritually" meaningful. I can't think of anyone I would not recommend it to. Her book is a wonderful gift to her readers and to life.