Pinker tends to represent the world either in graphs or the kind of bromides that suggest someone glancing at the world from a speeding Prius, en route to a TED talk. That rationality is dangerous precisely because of how hugely it expands human power? It may be unfashionable to sing the Wests praises in this era of post-colonialism, but Pinker doesnt contemporary Worship seem to care and good on him. The Radical Enlightenment, drawing inspiration from Spinoza, "sought to sweep away existing structures insisting that politics and morality had to be grounded on a "radical egalitarianism". Ozark or reading a book to starting a new business. "If I knew something useful to my country and harmful to Mankind, I would look upon it as a crime.". I was already familiar with a lot of the information he sharesespecially about health and energybut he understands each subject so deeply that hes able to articulate his case in a way that feels fresh and new. "If I knew something useful to my family and not to my country, I would try to forget it the French Enlightenment philosopher Montesquieu argued. Factfulness, which I plan to review soon.
While he is clear-eyed about the risks from climate change, he attacks environmental greenism for its indulgence in ghoulish fantasies of a depopulated planet. Enlightenment Now wont be released until the end of February. Martin Luther King Jr could have been grateful not to be living in 1850s Louisiana, but where would that have got him? Mainstream thinkers, such as Kant, Voltaire and Hume, accepted compromises with the old order, and were wary of pushing too far ideas of liberty and democracy.
Quite possibly, had there been no Nazis, there would be no nukes. He does a good job explaining why were drawn to the Period of Enlightenment pessimism and how that instinct influences our approach to the world, although I wish he went more in depth about the psychology (especially since hes a psychologist by training). But there is no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing." The world is getting better, even if it doesnt always feel that way. However, Pinker rejects this line of thinking, maintaining (tendentiously perhaps) that the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and his genocidal ravings had a lot to answer for in this regard. Ultimately, economic inequality is not itself a dimension of human wellbeing, he tells us, and thats that.
Enlightenment Now will no doubt continue to be picked over by hostile commentators and it does admittedly contain some questionable passages. Surely it is an essential and welcome feature of modern societies that people are restless and dissatisfied, even as things improve. "The shift from 'selfishness' to 'sentiment provided a means of "recognizing all peoples as of equal worth, and of embracing some kind of common good".