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The Case for Reason Science Humanism and Progress

Steven Pinker


Enlightenment Now- The Case for Reason Science Humanism and Progress
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Book Details
 Price
 4.00
 Pages
 739 p
 File Size 
 14,718 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 ISBN
 9780525427575 (hardcover)
 9780698177888 (ebook)
 9780525559023 (international edition)
 Copyright©   
 2018 by Steven Pinker 

EPIGRAPH
Those who are governed by reason desire nothing for
themselves which they do not also desire for the rest of humankind.
—Baruch Spinoza

Everything that is not forbidden by laws of nature is
achievable, given the right knowledge.
—David Deutsch
....

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. At the time of this writing, my
country is led by people with a dark vision of the current moment:
“mothers and children trapped in poverty . . . an education system
which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all
knowledge . . . and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have
stolen too many lives.” We are in an “outright war” that is “expanding
and metastasizing.” The blame for this nightmare may be placed on a
“global power structure” that has eroded “the underlying spiritual and
moral foundations of Christianity.”1

In the pages that follow, I will show that this bleak assessment of
the state of the world is wrong. And not just a little wrong—wrong
wrong, flat-earth wrong, couldn’t-be-more-wrong. But this book is not
about the forty-fifth president of the United States and his advisors. It
was conceived some years before Donald Trump announced his
candidacy, and I hope it will outlast his administration by many more.
The ideas that prepared the ground for his election are in fact widely
shared among intellectuals and laypeople, on both the left and the
right. They include pessimism about the way the world is heading,
cynicism about the institutions of modernity, and an inability to
conceive of a higher purpose in anything other than religion. I will
present a different understanding of the world, grounded in fact and
inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment: reason, science,
humanism, and progress. Enlightenment ideals, I hope to show, are
timeless, but they have never been more relevant than they are right now.

The sociologist Robert Merton identified Communalism as a cardinal
scientific virtue, together with Universalism, Disinterestedness, and
Organized Skepticism: CUDOS.2 Kudos indeed goes to the many
scientists who shared their data in a communal spirit and responded
to my queries thoroughly and swiftly. First among these is Max Roser,
proprietor of the mind-expanding Our World in Data Web site, whose
insight and generosity were indispensable to many discussions in part
II, the section on progress. I am grateful as well to Marian Tupy of
HumanProgress and to Ola Rosling and Hans Rosling of Gapminder,
two other invaluable resources for understanding the state of
humanity. Hans was an inspiration, and his death in 2017 a tragedy
for those who are committed to reason, science, humanism, and progress.

My gratitude goes as well to the other data scientists I pestered and
to the institutions that collect and maintain their data: Karlyn
Bowman, Daniel Cox (PRRI), Tamar Epner (Social Progress Index),
Christopher Fariss, Chelsea Follett (HumanProgress), Andrew
Gelman, Yair Ghitza, April Ingram (Science Heroes), Jill Janocha
(Bureau of Labor Statistics), Gayle Kelch (US Fire
Administration/FEMA), Alaina Kolosh (National Safety Council),
Kalev Leetaru (Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone),
Monty Marshall (Polity Project), Bruce Meyer, Branko Milanović
(World Bank), Robert Muggah (Homicide Monitor), Pippa Norris
(World Values Survey), Thomas Olshanski (US Fire
Administration/FEMA), Amy Pearce (Science Heroes), Mark Perry,
Therese Pettersson (Uppsala Conflict Data Program), Leandro Prados
de la Escosura, Stephen Radelet, Auke Rijpma (OECD Clio Infra),
Hannah Ritchie (Our World in Data), Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
(Google Trends), James X. Sullivan, Sam Taub (Uppsala Conflict Data
Program), Kyla Thomas, Jennifer Truman (Bureau of Justice
Statistics), Jean Twenge, Bas van Leeuwen (OECD Clio Infra), Carlos
Vilalta, Christian Welzel (World Values Survey), Justin Wolfers, and
Billy Woodward (Science Heroes).
David Deutsch, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Kevin Kelly, John
Mueller, Roslyn Pinker, Max Roser, and Bruce Schneier read a draft of
the entire manuscript and offered invaluable advice. I also profited
from comments by experts who read chapters or excerpts, including
Scott Aronson, Leda Cosmides, Jeremy England, Paul Ewald, Joshua
Goldstein, A. C. Grayling, Joshua Greene, Cesar Hidalgo, Jodie
Jackson, Lawrence Krauss, Branko Milanović, Robert Muggah, Jason
Nemirow, Matthew Nock, Ted Nordhaus, Anthony Pagden, Robert
Pinker, Susan Pinker, Stephen Radelet, Peter Scoblic, Martin
Seligman, Michael Shellenberger, and Christian Welzel.
Other friends and colleagues answered questions or made
important suggestions, including Charleen Adams, Rosalind Arden,
Andrew Balmford, Nicolas Baumard, Brian Boutwell, Stewart Brand,
David Byrne, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Gregg Easterbrook,
Emily-Rose Eastop, Nils Petter Gleditsch, Jennifer Jacquet, Barry
Latzer, Mark Lilla, Karen Long, Andrew Mack, Michael McCullough,
Heiner Rindermann, Jim Rossi, Scott Sagan, Sally Satel, and Michael
Shermer. Special thanks go to my Harvard colleagues Mahzarin
Banaji, Mercè Crosas, James Engell, Daniel Gilbert, Richard McNally,
Kathryn Sikkink, and Lawrence Summers.
I thank Rhea Howard and Luz Lopez for their heroic efforts in
obtaining, analyzing, and plotting data, and Keehup Yong for several
regression analyses. I thank as well Ilavenil Subbiah for designing the
elegant graphs and for her suggestions on form and substance.
I am deeply grateful to my editors, Wendy Wolf and Thomas Penn,
and to my literary agent, John Brockman, for their guidance and
encouragement throughout the project. Katya Rice has now
copyedited eight of my books, and I have learned and profited from
her handiwork every time.
Special thanks go to my family: Roslyn, Susan, Martin, Eva, Carl,
Eric, Robert, Kris, Jack, David, Yael, Solomon, Danielle, and most of
all Rebecca, my teacher and partner in appreciating the ideals of the
Enlightenment.
....


Table of Contents
ALSO BY STEVEN PINKER
TITLE PAGE
COPYRIGHT
DEDICATION
EPIGRAPH
LIST OF FIGURES
PREFACE
PART I: ENLIGHTENMENT
CHAPTER 1. DARE TO UNDERSTAND!
CHAPTER 2. ENTRO, EVO, INFO
CHAPTER 3. COUNTER-ENLIGHTENMENTS
PART II: PROGRESS
CHAPTER 4. PROGRESSOPHOBIA
CHAPTER 5. LIFE
CHAPTER 6. HEALTH
CHAPTER 7. SUSTENANCE
CHAPTER 8. WEALTH
CHAPTER 9. INEQUALITY
CHAPTER 10. THE ENVIRONMENT
CHAPTER 11. PEACE
CHAPTER 12. SAFETY
CHAPTER 13. TERRORISM
CHAPTER 14. DEMOCRACY
CHAPTER 15. EQUAL RIGHTS
CHAPTER 16. KNOWLEDGE
CHAPTER 17. QUALITY OF LIFE
CHAPTER 18. HAPPINESS
CHAPTER 19. EXISTENTIAL THREATS
CHAPTER 20. THE FUTURE OF PROGRESS
PART III: REASON, SCIENCE, AND HUMANISM
CHAPTER 21. REASON
CHAPTER 22. SCIENCE
CHAPTER 23. HUMANISM
NOTES
REFERENCES
INDEX


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Enlightenment Now- The Case for Reason Science Humanism and Progress
....
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