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, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, [2018]
ISBN: 9780525427575
0525427570
Branch Call Number: HM891 .P56 2018x
303.44 Pinker
Characteristics: xix, 556 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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Pinker 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 worke... Read More »


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jessegabriel
Nov 08, 2020

Enlightenment Now contains statistical proof (with graphical evidence) that the world is better now than it was before. Though not naively optimistic, Pinker goes deeply into many topics to support this argument while unbiasedly looking at counter-arguments as well. However, the book is more about statistical evidence for world improvement, it's about the well-thought-out argument that we need to uphold Enlightenment values (Reason, Science, and Humanism) to carry out previously unthinkable world progress.

The physical book itself was bigger than I imagined, but I'm not surprised. Its pages are packed with meaning, no paragraph is a waste. Pinker clearly and effectively supports his arguments and goes deep into his topics. Though it's not an easy read - you'll have to take it slow if you want to extract value from each paragraph (which mostly every paragraph has). The big words and complex phrases will also slow the average person down, so just keep aware that this book can sometimes be slow and difficult to read, but versus being "difficult and boring," it's actually challenging and very enjoyable.

I only took half a star away because at times I felt like there was a bit of pandering about Trump's Presidential inadequacies which made it feel overrun. Pinker is also outspoken against religion, and he clearly expresses it in this book. But, please know that this book is very rewarding to read, I suggest everyone read this book, society NEEDS to know that our world is indeed getting better, not worse.

c
candlesticktroughs
Mar 12, 2020

" People who lead happy but not necessarily meaningful lives have all their needs satisfied: they are healthy, have enough money, and feel good a lot of the time. People who lead meaningful lives may enjoy none of these boons. Happy people live in the present; those with meaningful lives have a narrative about their past and a plan for the future." "Parents get meaning from their children, but not necessarily do they derive happiness from them." "It's not that people with meaningful lives masochistically go looiking for trouble but that they pursue ambitious goals; 'Man plans and God laughs'." "Meaning is about expressing rather thatn satisfying the self: it is enhanced by activities that define the person and build a reputation."

e
EllenMSmith
Oct 30, 2019

Bill Gates favorite of all time ...

l
Luckybe
Sep 17, 2019

Pinker’s ENLIGHTENMENT NOW should be required reading for every voter in America, particularly now when reason, science and world progress are under attack from the fringes of political movements and religious dogma. Pinker’s extensive researched and documented analysis of Trumpism and current forces attempting to drag the world back into more authoritarian, less progressive times is chilling, and lays out the importance of holding on to the movement and mindset that has brought us this far into a better, healthier, wealthier and far more prosperous and stable world.

j
JoMcD8
Jul 22, 2019

Interesting read, which discussed many different subjects from a seemingly objective perspective. Pinker offers a lot of clearly laid out data to provide evidence for his claims, and often offers information from both sides of an argument.
A strong argument for humanism!

w
wilyman
May 23, 2019

Read up to p.105

n
naturalist
May 04, 2019

recommended:
“Imagine There's No Heaven : How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World”
by Mitchell Stephens
St. Martin's Press (Feb. 25 2014, hc, 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1137002603, ISBN-13: 978-1137002600

f
flygt
Mar 25, 2019

Steven is a good writer but I think he's overly optimistic and like many academics is under the illusion that PC dogma are indisputable facts. The welfare state is unsustainable, people can't eat ideas and good will, collapse (of the west) is what I think is coming.

j
Jewhyte
Feb 17, 2019

Would love to thank Mr. Pinker for writing this one! Wow. A must read for anyone interested understanding the state of the world through the lens of evidence!

j
Jhetto
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.

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mammothhawk229e
Feb 11, 2020

The vulnerability of any embodied agent to violence explains why the callous, egotistic, megalomaniacal sociopath cannot remain disengaged from the arena of moral discourse (and its demand for impartiality and nonviolence) forever. If he refuses to play the game of morality, then in the eyes of everyone else he has become a mindless menace, like a germ, a wildfire, or a rampaging wolverine -- something to be neutralized by brute force, no question asked. (As Hobbes put it, "No covenants with beasts.")

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