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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

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Arthur Morey

19 Hours 49 Minutes

Penguin Audio

February 2018

Audio Book Summary


'My new favorite book of all time.' --Bill Gates

If you think the world is coming to an end, think again: 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. By the author of the new book, Rationality.

Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual 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 jaw-dropping 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.

With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.

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  • James D.

    Plain language. Straightforward writer. Easily takes complex issues and deconstructs them in a manner so that a 13 year old could understand.

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  • Richard B.

    This is yet another important masterpiece by Pinker, but not quite perfect. He talks extensively throughout the book about Tronald Dump and what caused him, but he never actually figured it out. He neglects to recognize that the primary reason Dump beat Hillary was because she was widely hated by both progressives and conservatards, and she was hated, not just because of her obnoxiously ignorant personality, but because she represented Neo-liberalism to an extreme degree, and was openly sponsored by Wall Street executives and the millionaire / billionaire class of which she is a leading member. Pinker might want to read Chomsky's thesis on Hillary's loss before he professes to us, the working class, about it. Sadly Pinker is a bit of a Neo-liberal himself. Ironically he professes throughout the book on the problems of cognitive bias but can't recognize his own political bias in regards to the needs and wants of the working class. He correctly labels Dump a demagogue but also says he's a populist but never recognizes that Bernie was the actual populist in that election whereas Dump was a fake populist, and there is a huge distinction between the two which is never mentioned. I have other minor disagreements with Pinker in this book and his previous book as well, but even still I consider both very important works by Pinker that need to be read.

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