... Enlightenment Now: The Future of Progress with Steven Pinker - Duration: 56:13. The theme of Enlightenment Now is contained in its subtitle: it is that reason, science and humanism lead to progress. We also need to rededicate ourselves to reason, science and humanism. 20. existential risk from artificial general intelligence, "Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker review – life is getting better", "Steven Pinker: 'The way to deal with pollution is not to rail against consumption, "Could science destroy the world? Enlightenment Now NPR coverage of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker. Four themes tie them together: reason, science, humanism, and progress. Publishers Weekly gave the book a glowing review, concluding that "In an era of increasingly 'dystopian rhetoric,' Pinker’s sober, lucid, and meticulously researched vision of human progress is heartening and important." ... all resting on the assumption that life is best endowed with meaning if only we remember our Enlightenment ideals. Also down: hate crimes, rape / domestic violence, and child abuse / bullying. He goes on to point out that the greenist movement has a history of failed predictions of catastrophe, such as the “population bomb” Paul Ehrlich warned of in the 1960s that was supposed to lead to mass famine by the 1980s, or the related fears that the world was running out of natural resources. What follows is a summary plus a few thoughts of my own. Even IQ scores are increasing (a phenomenon known as the Flynn Effect), likely as a result of the spread of education. , The book concludes with three chapters defending what Pinker sees as Enlightenment values: reason, science, and humanism. With more data since then and better analysis, we can see that it doesn’t hold up, indicating that happiness is more closely tied to objective well-being than we might have feared. I don’t agree with every word of it, but I agree with its theme and essence. Enlightenment now. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature—tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking—which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Aren’t people lonelier and more disconnected in our digital age? He makes this case with dozens of charts and far more data and analysis than a summary can do justice to, much of it sourced from Max Roser’s Our World in Data and similar projects. Enlightenment Now (2018) describes how the values of the Enlightenment, such as science, reason, and humanism, have led to constant progress since their inception. ", In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Stanford University historian Jessica Riskin summarizes the book as "a knot of Orwellian contradictions". What we need is not to destroy the institutions of modernity that have brought us out of the caves to where we are today, but to keep making incremental progress within their framework. With the caveat that we cannot prophesy the future, Pinker concludes that there are real threats, but that they are overhyped; some damage is possible, but the threat of extinction is very small. Bibliography • But these biases don’t prevent us from being rational, they’re simply an obstacle to good thinking that we can overcome—using reason. She concludes, "What we need in this time of political, environmental, and cultural crisis is precisely the value Pinker rejects but that his Enlightenment heroes embraced, whatever their differences of opinion on other matters: skepticism, and an attendant spirit of informed criticism.". Gates stated he agreed overall with the techno-optimism of the book, but cautioned that Pinker is too "quick to dismiss" the idea that artificial superintelligence could someday lead to human extinction. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. What about terrorism? Everyone who cares about the big issues of human life, society, politics and culture should read it. The biggest threat to humanity, he says, is nuclear war (for which he recommends continuing the trend of disarmament, and the other trends that have made war in general less common). Ecomodernism focuses on the benefits that technology provides for humanity, and seeks to use technology itself to reduce environmental harm, while recognizing that some level of pollution is necessary and acceptable. He argues further against the “faitheists” who don’t believe in God but want to accommodate religion as a source of morality or because of a supposed psychological need for mystical belief. " A review in the London Evening Standard agrees with Pinker's summary of how rationality has improved the world, and state "On Islamism, where his optimism falters, we have the interesting phenomenon of Muslim youth — not least in countries like Afghanistan — becoming less liberal than their parents" although they do not provide a source for this claim. Learning with my hands », Copyright © Jason Crawford. Discuss • A commonly-held lay public perception holds that the world is in terrible shape; for some, 2016 was the "worst year ever" and the death of liberalism. As a result, people report more hours of leisure, and more are retiring in old age. She states that Pinker believes that skepticism is a negative influence on society, and objects that the very Enlightenment heroes Pinker praises, such as Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Denis Diderot and Adam Smith, were all advocates of skepticism. Scientists working on the Manhattan Project to develop the first nuclear weapons did so because they needed to beat Hitler; Pinker states "Quite possibly, had there been no Nazis, there would be no nukes." But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. In contrast, critics point out that science lacks any ethical logic of its own. Knowledge: Around the world, children are going to school longer, and literacy is on the rise. Deaths are down from both battles and genocide. Isn’t all this progress just leading to “mindless consumerism” and shallow, empty lives? This has been attributed to the “hedonic treadmill”, in which we reset our expectations at each new level of achievement, thus never getting happier even as our lives get objectively better; and to social-comparison theories of happiness, in which our happiness is based on comparing our situation to others’.  British philosopher John Gray criticized Pinker as promoting scientism and discussed historical examples of strong desire for human progress leading to the misuse of science for immoral policies. The ideals of reason, science, prog… About • He sets out 15 different measures of human wellbeing to support this argument, with the most obvious being the uncontroversial fact that, statistically, people live longer and healthier lives on average than ever before. First, Pinker points out, inequality is “not a fundamental component of well-being”, like health, prosperity, knowledge and peace. Rather than what the holy scriptures or despotic patriarchs say, only reason can explain what is … He doesn’t recommend ignoring AI safety or counter-bioterrorist programs, but he says there is a real danger of overhyping threats: it can cause misallocations of limited resources, and it can lead to despair from the public who conclude that the world is likely to end literally within their lifetimes. Greenism sees humans as a scourge upon the pristine Earth, pits itself against science and technology, and calls for degrowth and deindustrialization. London: Allen Lane, 2018. But Pinker largely ignores issues of individualism vs. collectivism, and egoism vs. altruism, that I see as core to the ideological struggles of the modern world. Wealth: Gross World Product was stagnant or slowly growing for most of human history, but it has grown “almost two hundredfold from the start of the Enlightenment in the 18th century.” And again, the increases are not only seen in a minority of the world. Moreover, some inequality is a natural consequence of economic progress, and indeed decreases in inequality often come from economic and humanitarian disasters: “mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolution, state collapse, and lethal pandemics.” Finally, he notes that global inequality is actually falling (thanks to the Great Convergence), and welfare spending in all developed countries is steadily rising. He concludes: "Much of what Pinker writes about the humanities would be a comical caricature if it did not represent a coherent ideological offensive that is reshaping higher education and research. Pinker attributes this achievement to science; institutions that create open economies by protecting rule of law, property rights, and enforceable contracts; and a change in values that conferred “dignity and prestige upon merchants and inventors rather than just on soldiers, priests, and courtiers.” But the Great Escape was followed in the 20th century by the Great Convergence, as poor countries around the world catch up in economic progress and close the gap. The result is a holistic picture of how and why the world is getting better. War between great powers has not occurred since World War 2, and the wars that rage today cover less of the world than in the past. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature–tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking–which demagogues are all … Enlightenment Now illustrates Pinker's practical yet tangible style, but is freshly positive as well. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress - A Complete Summary Steven Pinker outlined the main reasons why he has taken up such a large task: Enlightenment ideals are worth discussing even today. It’s like Better Angels on steroids. Pp. Overall he calls for better education and training on critical reasoning and cognitive debiasing, a more empirical approach to prediction, and the depoliticization of issues as much as possible. “Enlightenment Now PDF Summary” A worthy follow-up to The Better Angels of Our Nature , Enlightenment Now is a research-based, graph-filled, quotes-adorned apology of Enlightenment values (i.e., reason, science, and humanism), embellished with a firm belief that, unless we stray off this agenda-less path, we are bound to create a better world for all humans. His message is not “don’t worry everybody, sit back and relax,” but rather: “let’s do more of what’s working (and not start going in reverse).” To do that, we need to not only keep researching, inventing and building. So when I heard about Steven Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, I knew I had to read it as soon as it came out. Democracy: Democracy is taking over the world (that is, democratic republics, as opposed to authoritarian regimes). Technology was critical in this achievement: mechanization of farming, synthetic fertilizer (thanks especially to the Haber-Bosch process), better crop varieties (thanks to Norman Borlaug and his Green Revolution), and now genetic engineering. T he core of Enlightenment Now is a generic graph, variations of which appear over and over. " The Economist agreed with Pinker that "barring a cataclysmic asteroid strike or nuclear war, it is likely that (the world) will continue to get better".. Enlightenment Now Summary. Equal rights: Racist, sexist, and anti-homosexual opinions are on the decline; “emancipative values” (such as freedom, autonomy and individuality) are growing more popular. For example, it is clear to Pinker that an innovation that makes the poor slightly richer and the rich massively richer is a positive rather than a negative achievement. But a clear and consistent theme of the book is that all of this progress, all these positive trends, are not automatic and must not be taken for granted. It is a defense of the ideas and values that have created the modern world, and a defense of that world itself. Książka Enlightenment Now autorstwa Pinker Steven , dostępna w Sklepie EMPIK.COM w cenie . He defends science against claims that it is to blame for problems such as racism or eugenics. “If triangles had a god they would give him three sides.” -Montesquieu Quality of life: Work hours have decreased from over 60 hours per week in both the US and Western Europe in 1870, to around 40 hours today. However, he believes that some environmental threats are real and serious, in particular global warming. This is the ideology he sees behind the rise of Trump. Now it was time to get rid of this cruel situation, so the four basic streams of Enlightenment started to spread: humanism, logic, science, and development. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. “Humanism” is a great start, because it sets the right standard: human life and everything that helps people thrive and prosper. Isn’t there a crisis of escalating anxiety, depression and suicide? First, he distinguishes between the “quasi-religious ideology” of “greenism”, and a view which may be called “ecomodernism”, “ecopragmatism”, “Enlightenment environmentalism”, or “humanistic environmentalism”. Patreon • He himself indicates this in the final pages of the book, when he writes: “The case for Enlightenment Now is not just a matter of debunking fallacies or disseminating data. Science, he says, is the proudest accomplishment of our species. It is the standard of value for the entire book, and it is a standard, he says, that people of different races, religions and nationalities can agree on. The What Is Enlightenment? It is a defense of the ideas and values that have created the modern world, and a defense of that world itself. After suffering setbacks from socialist regimes in the mid-20th century, it is rebounding, with the defeat of Nazism followed by the fall of Communism. Not only our time but our money has been liberated: spending on necessities in the US is down from over 60% of disposable income in 1929 to about a third in 2016. Pinker looks at the data and concludes that many of these problems are decreasing, with others relatively steady; none are increasing significantly, certainly not to indicate a crisis of the modern age. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. And closely related, Pinker falls short of painting a truly inspiring, motivating picture, a heroic ideal to strive for. The Age of Enlightenment, or just the Enlightenment, occurred during the 18th century and is known as a time period of great change and new ideas. But what about the Easterlin paradox? It clashes, however, with two alternatives. The corollary is: keep it up! Two-thirds of the world’s population now lives in “free or relatively free societies”, vs. one percent in 1816 (according to projects that track this sort of thing, such as the Polity Project). The second enemy of humanism is what he calls “romantic heroism”, which is “the ideology behind resurgent authoritarianism, nationalism, populism, reactionary thinking, even fascism” and which he attributes in large part to Nietzsche. Another obstacle to a rational society is that many people drop reason when it comes to political issues, professing beliefs not as an honest assessment of truth but as an act of allegiance or loyalty to an ideology or tribe. What does this ZIP Reads Summary Include? Booklist, (9-10). The foremost Enlightenment principle is the primacy of reason as an avenue for understanding the world and human life and for rejecting religious dogma and faith. Mondor, C. (2018). In my opinion, Enlightenment Now is just what the world needs right now. It may be cast as a stirring narrative, and I hope that people with more artistic flair and rhetorical power than I can tell it better and spread it farther.” I hope they do, as well. Buy Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Pinker, Steven (ISBN: 9780525427575) from Amazon's Book Store. He critiqued the book for its reliance on utilitarianism due to its practical difficulties, and for not convincingly demonstrating that it was the Enlightenment that caused the trends Pinker identifies. ZipReads Summary and Analysis of Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker gives a detailed overview of this, Pinker’s seminal work, in which he takes on a lot of the urban legends, myths, and downright false information that is peddled by both sides of the political spectrum. In Skeptical Inquirer Kendrick Frazier concurs that Pinker "argues [his] case eloquently and ... effectively, drawing on both the demographic data and our improved understanding of human biases that get in our way of seeing the truth. , On topics such as nuclear weaponry, Pinker places the blame on anti-Enlightenment forces. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more. Progress is central to Pinker’s argument: it is the proof that the Enlightenment is working. He stated the book provides an "empirical and quantitative approach to the topic, perhaps to the chagrin of humanities scholars, but consistent with current scholarship in the social sciences and economic history." In contrast, critics hold that enhancing social mobility and combating "inequality as a result of unfairness" are important legitimate ends in and of themselves, beyond any effects of reducing poverty. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, « Primitive thought The weakest aspect of … These scholars want to save us from a modern-day Frankenstein", "Elon Musk responds to Harvard professor Steven Pinker's comments on A.I. They argue that scientific progress is liberating but also threatening, and can present dangers precisely because of how hugely it expands human power.  Pinker expresses concerns about potential human extinction from nuclear weapons or from global warming, but categorizes existential risks overall as a "useless category", stating that "Sowing fear about hypothetical disasters, far from safeguarding the future of humanity, can endanger it". Today, people have access to, on average, over 2,500 calories per day (including an average of 2,400 in India, 2,600 in Africa, and 3,100 in China). Wagner’s law states that as a state’s wealth rises, it spends more on social benefits programs. ENLIGHTENMENT NOW THE CASE FOR REASON, SCIENCE, HUMANISM, AND PROGRESS. To show evidence about progress after the Enlightenment, Steven Pinker starts off with describing the increase of life expectancy during the last couple of centuries. · Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked.  The Guardian and The Financial Times dismissed Pinker's contention that the left is partly to blame for anti-reason rhetoric and objected to Pinker's criticism of groups such as postmodernists, de-growth environmentalists, and people whom Pinker deems to be "social justice warriors". Enlightenment Now takes the approach he uses in Better Angels to track violence throughout history and applies it to 15 different measures of progress (like quality of life, knowledge, and safety). Having thus made the case for progress, Pinker returns to the ideas that provided its foundation, which he identifies as key themes of the Enlightenment, and calls for these ideas to be strengthened and defended against counter-Enlightenment movements in the culture. 11 min read. He advocates, not scaling back the world’s energy use (which would threaten many of the measures of progress discussed above), but technology: shifting to nuclear power, deploying carbon capture techniques, and possibly a limited amount of direct climate engineering. Deaths have decreased from falls, fire, drowning, you name it. But Steven Pinker has set out, first in The Better Angels of Our Nature, and now in Enlightenment Now, to illustrate that there has never been a better time to be a human being. , Kirkus Reviews called it "overstuffed", and noted though Pinker is progressive, "the academically orthodox will find him an apostate". As another example, while fears of terrorism are often voiced in U.S. opinion polls, Pinker shows that an American is 3,000 times more likely to die in an accident than in a terrorist attack. Another scientist, economist Adolph Wagner, found more evidence to prove this point. The belief that the world is corrupt and in decline motivates a desire for violent revolution and upheaval: smash the system, burn it all down, because nothing could be worse than what we have. The Age of Enlightenment was an important time in the history of the world and modern western societies. " Pinker had written that the Tuskegee experiment "was patently unethical by today’s standards, though it’s often misreported to pile up the indictment," and when properly reported, "when the study began, it may even have been defensible by the standards of the day. We need to counter this with careful analysis of the data. , In January 2018 Bill Gates tweeted praise for Enlightenment Now, calling it "my new favorite book". , Pinker argues that economic inequality "is not itself a dimension of human wellbeing" and cites a study that finds inequality is not linked to unhappiness, at least in poorer societies. What matters more is wealth and fairness, and these things are not incompatible with some inequality. ", Political scientist Nicolas Guilhot sharply criticizes the book for what he sees as "finessed statistics" marshaled in service of preconceived conclusions, and for being "one inch deep". £25, hardcover", "Unenlightened thinking: Steven Pinker's embarrassing new book is a feeble sermon for rattled liberals", "H-Diplo Commentary 1 on Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress", "Pinker's Pollyannish Philosophy and Its Perfidious Politics", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Enlightenment_Now&oldid=990829007, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 26 November 2020, at 18:58.