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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason,…
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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (original 2018; edition 2019)

by Steven Pinker (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3044010,942 (4.11)16
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data. In seventy-five graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing. 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. Pinker makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.… (more)
Member:gregvogl
Title:Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Authors:Steven Pinker (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2019), Edition: Reprint, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:science, technology, philosophy, atheism, religion

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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker (2018)

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» See also 16 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
A lot of reviews of this book I’ve read set up a false dichotomy that you must love it or hate it, swallow it whole without argument or reject it in its entirety. I think the reality is somewhere in between. Yes, some of Pinker’s arguments are flawed (I rely on better-informed intellectuals’ fact-checking for this assertion). Yes, he tends to hyperbolize and cherry-pick, particularly when finding fault with today’s progressives. But I tend to agree with him that problems are solvable, if we identify the problem and set our will to solving it. Or at least I think catastrophizing our problems is not going to solve them, and approaching them as potentially solvable is the only rational, workable position to take. And I hope he’s right about nationalism and populism. ( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
I love and loathe this book all at once. It speaks very powerfully to much of what I feel, and then sometimes seems to get things so staggeringly, simplistically wrong that I want to shout my opinions in the town square.

It will be a while before I can write an even-handed review on this one. ( )
  therebelprince | Jun 24, 2021 |
Excellent. A strong case for the continued optimism in the enlightenment values. Do not confuse pessimism with profundity. Problems are inevitable but problems are soluble.

One of the best books of all time. ( )
  SeekingApatheia | Apr 13, 2021 |
There's no question in my mind after listening to 3/4 of this book that Steven Pinker is right - Humanity is better off in practically every way when compared to any other time in history, and it's due to the march of Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

Unfortunately, this book is so incredibly dry and repetitive that I couldn't finish it. ( )
  patswanson | Dec 22, 2020 |
I liked Factfulness by Hans Rosling better. ( )
  pedstrom | Dec 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)

Sixteen years ago, in his book “Blank Slate,” he acknowledged that false conceptions about human nature in unequal societies make it “easy [for the rich] to blame the victim and tolerate inequality.” He allows that if “social status is relative,” then “extreme inequality can make people on the lower rungs of society feel defeated.” He sees real consequences.... But in “Enlightenment Now,” Pinker celebrates inequality as “a harbinger of opportunity.” Observing these differences in his work some 16 years apart, it seems that he has not become the champion of Enlightenment ideas in this respect, but rather has forgotten them without even noticing.
 
Enlightenment Now ... is a dogmatic book that offers an oversimplified, excessively optimistic vision of human history and a starkly technocratic prescription for the human future. It also gives readers the spectacle of a professor at one of the world’s great universities treating serious thinkers with populist contempt. The genre it most closely resembles, with its breezy style, bite-size chapters, and impressive visuals, is not 18th-century philosophie so much as a genre in which Pinker has had copious experience: the TED Talk
added by rybie2 | editThe Nation, David A. Bell (Mar 8, 2018)
 
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Harry Pinker (1928–2015)
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PREFACE

The second half of the second decade of the third millennium would not seem to be an auspicious time to publish a book on the historical sweep of progress and its causes.
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In the course of several decades giving public lectures on language, mind, and human nature, I have been asked some mighty strange questions. [Introduction]
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Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data. In seventy-five graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing. 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. Pinker makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.

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