Enlightenment Now

Enlightenment Now

The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Book - 2018
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The follow-up to Pinker's groundbreaking The Better Angels of Our Nature presents the big picture of human progress: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science. Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature--tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking--which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation.
Publisher: New York, New York : Viking, [2018].
ISBN: 9780525427575
Characteristics: xix, 556 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.


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Aug 08, 2018

Brilliantly deconstructs the contemporary nihilism that shrouds the safest, richest, healthiest, and most liberal period in human history. Pinker backs every claim with data, elevating his arguments above the noisy post-modern babble.

ArapahoeAnnaL Aug 04, 2018

Puts our times in perspective. You'll be grateful for the quality of life science and humanism have made possible!

Jul 05, 2018

The author provides many interesting statistics. What concerns me is the hubris (technological magical thinking) - presuming that whatever problems arise now into the future will be readily resolvable by technical fixes if we just keep that technological faith!

May 13, 2018

"lies, damn lies, and statistics"

Apr 14, 2018

I am on pg 266

Apr 13, 2018

To check the other reader's comment on economic growth under Obama out of curiosity, I went back to several years, and here we go: GDP growth in Jan 2015, 3.2%; July 2015, 2.7%; Jan 2016, 0.5%; July 2016, 2.8%.

Apr 06, 2018

Join me and get inspired by what Bill Gates calls his new “favorite book of all time.” Despite the onslaught of negative & extremist daily news, deliberately sensationalized to sell more ads, I’ve found deep philosophical hope in this book of the decade: "Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress" (2018), by Steven Pinker. At the heart of the book is trustworthy peer-reviewed science in every chapter, showing how far our species has come from homicidal warring tribes in the past, to the present relatively-safe large countries with various systems of rule of law enforcing a civil and human rights, mostly better than ever before. Sure, humans have a lot of problems still to fix (such as voting down fact-free far-right populist demagogues, and ignoring the idealistically-impractical & anti-trade extreme left), but this book reminds us to see more clearly how far humans have progressed worldwide (in terms of lifespan, health, safety, pollution control, human rights, wealth, happiness, etc), in historical perspective, in the past 150 years, especially in the past generation. (I believe that international engagement via trade and participation in the evolving United Nations is critical for the future of human rights & civic progress. International peer pressure may help enforce more universal humanism and freedom balanced with civic responsibilities.)

Mar 14, 2018

I was really looking forward to reading this book, because I love everything else Pinker writes, but this one was a bit disappointing. I regret that I couldn't finish it, mostly because Pinker elevates Obama to godhood and constantly trashes Trump for using the "backward looking phrase" Make America Great Again. Trump so far has done a good job of doing it (In 8 years Obama never had more than 2% growth in GDP and claimed that we would never see it higher than that for the rest of eternity, Trump got it up to 3% in his first year.)
Being a new book it obeys the Kawasaki rule (all new books are rife with errors) where on page 45 he says:
"The statement x>y is different from the statement y=o"
I'm certain that he meant y=0 (zero) not y=o, but I can forgive that minor typo. What I can't forgive is his constant criticism of those of us on the Right.

Jan 10, 2018

It is important to know what science finds out is only true 55% of the times. This is because the model science uses is Mechanical. Living Organism, being uses the Mind, neglected, that is the reason. Unless science incorporates the diffusion of the processes of the human mind, the total picture, true story is difficult to fathom, though try we must. Only by failing, we learn to walk, upright ! Nature is relentlessly Compelling !


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