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The Laws of Human Nature
Cover of The Laws of Human Nature
The Laws of Human Nature
From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The 48 Laws of Power comes the definitive new book on decoding the behavior of the people around you
Robert Greene is a master guide for millions of readers, distilling ancient wisdom and philosophy into essential texts for seekers of power, understanding and mastery. Now he turns to the most important subject of all - understanding people's drives and motivations, even when they are unconscious of them themselves.
We are social animals. Our very lives depend on our relationships with people. Knowing why people do what they do is the most important tool we can possess, without which our other talents can only take us so far. Drawing from the ideas and examples of Pericles, Queen Elizabeth I, Martin Luther King Jr, and many others, Greene teaches us how to detach ourselves from our own emotions and master self-control, how to develop the empathy that leads to insight, how to look behind people's masks, and how to resist conformity to develop your singular sense of purpose. Whether at work, in relationships, or in shaping the world around you, The Laws of Human Nature offers brilliant tactics for success, self-improvement, and self-defense.
From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The 48 Laws of Power comes the definitive new book on decoding the behavior of the people around you
Robert Greene is a master guide for millions of readers, distilling ancient wisdom and philosophy into essential texts for seekers of power, understanding and mastery. Now he turns to the most important subject of all - understanding people's drives and motivations, even when they are unconscious of them themselves.
We are social animals. Our very lives depend on our relationships with people. Knowing why people do what they do is the most important tool we can possess, without which our other talents can only take us so far. Drawing from the ideas and examples of Pericles, Queen Elizabeth I, Martin Luther King Jr, and many others, Greene teaches us how to detach ourselves from our own emotions and master self-control, how to develop the empathy that leads to insight, how to look behind people's masks, and how to resist conformity to develop your singular sense of purpose. Whether at work, in relationships, or in shaping the world around you, The Laws of Human Nature offers brilliant tactics for success, self-improvement, and self-defense.
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  • From the cover

    1

    Master Your Emotional Self

    The Law of Irrationality

    You like to imagine yourself in control of your fate, consciously planning the course of your life as best you can. But you are largely unaware of how deeply your emotions dominate you. They make you veer toward ideas that soothe your ego. They make you look for evidence that confirms what you already want to believe. They make you see what you want to see, depending on your mood, and this disconnect from reality is the source of the bad decisions and negative patterns that haunt your life. Rationality is the ability to counteract these emotional effects, to think instead of react, to open your mind to what is really happening, as opposed to what you are feeling. It does not come naturally; it is a power we must cultivate, but in doing so we realize our greatest potential.

    The Inner Athena


    One day toward the end of the year 432 BC, the citizens of Athens received some very disturbing news: representatives from the city-state of Sparta had arrived in town and presented to the Athenian governing council new terms of peace. If Athens did not agree to these terms, then Sparta would declare war. Sparta was Athens's archenemy and in many ways its polar opposite. Athens led a league of democratic states in the region, while Sparta led a confederation of oligarchies, known as the Peloponnesians. Athens depended on its navy and on its wealth-it was the preeminent commercial power in the Mediterranean. Sparta depended on its army. It was a total military state. Up until then, the two powers had largely avoided a direct war because the consequences could be devastating-not only could the defeated side lose its influence in the region, but its whole way of life could be put in jeopardy-certainly for Athens its democracy and its wealth. Now, however, war seemed inevitable and a sense of impending doom quickly settled on the city.


    A few days later, the Athenian Assembly met on the Pnyx Hill overlooking the Acropolis to debate the Spartan ultimatum and decide what to do. The Assembly was open to all male citizens, and on that day close to ten thousand of them crowded on the hill to participate in the debate. The hawks among them were in a state of great agitation-Athens should seize the initiative and attack Sparta first, they said. Others reminded them that in a land battle the Spartan forces were nearly unbeatable. Attacking Sparta in this way would play straight into their hands. The doves were all in favor of accepting the peace terms, but as many pointed out, that would only show fear and embolden the Spartans. It would only give them more time to enlarge their army. Back and forth went the debate, with emotions getting heated, people shouting, and no satisfactory solution in sight.


    Then toward the end of the afternoon, the crowd suddenly grew quiet as a familiar figure stepped forward to address the Assembly. This was Pericles, the elder statesman of Athenian politics, now over sixty years old. Pericles was beloved, and his opinion would matter more than anyone's, but despite the Athenians' respect for him, they found him a very peculiar leader-more of a philosopher than a politician. To those old enough to remember the start of his career, it was truly surprising how powerful and successful he had become. He did nothing the usual way.


    In the earliest years of their democracy, before Pericles had appeared on the scene, the Athenians had preferred a certain personality type in their leaders-men who could give an inspiring, persuasive speech and had a flair for drama. On the battlefield...

About the Author-
  • ROBERT GREENE has a degree in classical studies and is the author of several bestselling books, including The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, The Art of Seduction, and Mastery. He lives in Los Angeles.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 17, 2018
    In this detailed and expansive guide, Greene (Mastery) seeks to immerse his audience in “all aspects of human behavior,” as represented by 18 laws created by Greene. He claims that studying these laws will transform the reader into a “calmer and more strategic observer,” immune to “emotional drama.” Those are lofty promises, but even skeptics will become believers after diving into Greene’s well-organized text. In each chapter, he describes the benefits of confronting and overcoming a different form of human fallibility. Overcoming the “law of irrationality,” for instance, leads to the ability to “open your mind to what is really happening, as opposed to what you are feeling.” For historical perspective, he highlights relevant famous figures: Howard Hughes represents the pitfalls of compulsive behavior, and Anton Chekhov embodies the benefits of overcoming self-sabotage. Greene also quotes a number of literary greats along the way, including Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Gore Vidal, whose aphorism “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little” is applied, not surprisingly, to the chapter on envy. Throughout, Greene’s overriding message is to “step back” from the “immediate rush of events” in order to gain greater insight into one’s experiences and circumstances. Greene’s thoughtful examination of self and society will, for the committed reader, deliver a refreshing and revitalizing perspective. Agent: Michael Carlisle, InkWell Management.

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