Nicholas Christakis

Prof. Stefan Klein und Prof. Steven Klein im Gespräch mit

Prof. Nicholas Christakis:
„The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society“

Donnerstag, 24.10.2019, 18:30 Uhr
Grunewaldstraße 2-5, Aula
Eintritt frei.

Die Veranstaltung findet in Kooperation mit der American Academy in Berlin statt.
Veranstaltung in englischer Sprache.
ACHTUNG: Begrenzte Sitzplatzkapazität; wir danken für Ihr Verständnis, falls nicht ausreichend Plätze zur Verfügung stehen. Keine Reservierung möglich.

Abstract: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society. Scientists and citizens often focus on the dark side of our biological heritage, such as our capacity for aggression, cruelty, prejudice, and self-interest.  But natural selection has also given us a suite of beneficial social features, including our capacity for love, friendship, cooperation, and teaching.  Beneath all our inventions—our tools, farms, machines, cities, nations—we carry with us innate proclivities to make such a good society.  Indeed, our genes affect not only our bodies and behaviors, but also the ways in which we make societies, and therefore ones that are surprisingly similar worldwide.  Using many, wide-ranging examples—including diverse historical and contemporary cultures, communities formed in the wake of shipwrecks, commune dwellers seeking utopia, online groups of both people and artificially intelligent bots, and even the tender and complex social arrangements of elephants and dolphins that so resemble our own—I show that, despite a human history replete with violence, we cannot escape our social blueprint for goodness.  In a world of increasing political and economic polarization, it’s tempting to ignore the positive role of our evolutionary past.  But I show how and why evolution has placed us on a humane path—and how we are united by our common humanity. 

Nicholas Christakis is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University. A social scientist and physician who conducts research in the fields of network science, biosocial science, and behavior genetics, he has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard, and since 2013, at Yale, where he directs the Human Nature Lab and is co-director of the Institute for Network Science. Christakis is the author of more than 200 scholarly articles, which have appeared in, among others, the New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He is also the author three books: Death Foretold: Prophesy and Prognosis in Medical Care (Chicago, 1999), Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (Little, Brown Spark, 2009), and, most recently, Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society (Little, Brown Spark, 2019).

Steven Klein is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Florida. He received a BA from the University of British Columbia and PhD from the University of Chicago. His work addresses questions about the nature of social domination in contemporary societies as well as the relationship between democratic action and the institutional structure of the welfare state and capitalism. His first book, "The Work of Politics: Making a Democratic Welfare State" (Cambridge, forthcoming), draws on the work of Max Weber, Hannah Arendt, and Jürgen Habermas to examine how social movements can use welfare institutions to transform structures of domination in society. In the history of political struggles in the welfare state, Klein points to examples such as the mobilization of German workers in nineteenth-century Germany and postwar feminist movements in Sweden. His articles have appeared in Sociological Theory, American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, and Journal of Politics, as well as the Washington Post and The Baffler. In addition to support from the University of Chicago, Klein has held fellowships from the European University Institute, Mellon Foundation, Canada Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the “Transformations of the State” research cluster at the Universität Bremen.

Stefan Klein studierte Physik, analytische Philosophie und forschte über theoretische Biophysik. Er gilt heute als einer der erfolgreichsten Wissenschaftspublizisten deutscher Sprache. Seine Bücher – u.a. „Träume“ (2014), „Die Glücksformel“ (2012), „Der Sinn des Gebens“(2010), „Da Vincis Vermächtnis“ (2008), „Zeit“ (2006) – wurden vielfach ausgezeichnet und in über 20 Sprachen übersetzt. Stefan Klein ist seit dem Wintersemester 2017/18 Gastprofessor für Kulturwissenschaften im Studium Generale. Weitere Informationen unter