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Pinker, S: Enlightenment Now

The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
ONE OF THE ECONOMIST'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR
AND A PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT

"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.

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.
Rezension
One of The Guardian's "Books to Buy in 2018"

"An excellent book, lucidly written, timely, rich in data and eloquent in its championing of a rational humanism that is - it turns out - really quite cool."-New York Times Book Review

"The world is getting better, even if it doesn't always feel that way. I'm glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture. Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker's ever written. It's my new favorite book of all time."-Bill Gates

"A terrific book...[Pinker] recounts the progress across a broad array of metrics, from health to wars, the environment to happiness, equal rights to quality of life."-Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

"Steven Pinker's mind bristles with pure, crystalline intelligence, deep knowledge and human sympathy."-Richard Dawkins

"Pinker is a paragon of exactly the kind of intellectual honesty and courage we need to restore conversation and community."-David Brooks, The New York Times

"[Enlightenment Now] is magnificent, uplifting and makes you want to rush to your laptop and close your Twitter account."-The Economist

"If 2017 was a rough year for you, look no further than Steven Pinker's engaging new book, Enlightenment Now, to cheer you up. Conceived before Donald Trump even announced his candidacy, it could not have been better timed to clarify - and, for some, refute - the habits of mind that brought Trump and the GOP to power."-The Washington Post

"Vindication has arrived in the form of Steven Pinker's latest book. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress is remarkable, heart-warming, and long overdue."-Christian Science Monitor

"Pinker is a paragon of exactly the kind of intellectual honesty and courage we need to restore conversation and community, and the students are right to revere him." -The Seattle Times

"[A] magisterial new book...Enlightenment Now is the most uplifting work of science I've ever read."-Science Magazine

"A passionate and persuasive defense of reason and science...[and] an urgently needed reminder that progress is, to no small extent, a result of values that have served us - and can serve us - extraordinarily well."-The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A meticulous defense of science and objective analysis, [and] a rebuttal to the tribalism, knee-jerk partisanship and disinformation that taints our politics."-San Francisco Chronicle

"Brimming with surprising data and entertaining anecdotes."-Financial Times

"[Pinker] makes a powerful case that the main line of history has been, since the Enlightenment, one of improvement."-Scientific American

"Let's stop once in a while to enjoy the view-I'm glad Pinker is pushing for this in a world that does it too rarely... It's hard not to be convinced."-Quartz

"Enlightenment Now is formidable."-Financial Times

"As a demonstration of the value of reason, knowledge, and curiosity, Enlightenment Now can hardly be bettered."-The Boston Globe

"With a wealth of knowledge, graphs and statistics, a strong grasp of history, and an engaging style of writing...Enlightenment Now provides a convincing case for gratitude."-Pittsburgh Post Gazette

"A forceful defense of the democratic, humanist institutions that [Pinker] says brought about these changes, and a declaration that reason, science and humanism can solve the problems to come."-Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"A masterly defense of the values of modernity against 'progressophobes'."-Times Higher Education

"Enlightenment Now strikes a powerful blow against the contemporary mystifications being peddled by tribalists on both the left and the right."-Reason

"Pinker presents graphs and data which deserve to be reckoned with by fair-minded people. His conclusion is provocative, as anything by Pinker is likely to be." -Colorado Springs Gazette

"Elegantly [argues] that in various ways humanity has every reason to be optimistic over life in the twent
Portrait
Steven Pinker is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and the winner of many awards for his research, teaching, and books, he has been named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinkers.
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  • Part I

    Enlightenment

    The common sense of the eighteenth century, its grasp of the obvious facts of human suffering, and of the obvious demands of human nature, acted on the world like a bath of moral cleansing. -Alfred North Whitehead

    In the course of several decades giving public lectures on language, mind, and human nature, I have been asked some mighty strange questions. Which is the best language? Are clams and oysters conscious? When will I be able to upload my mind to the Internet? Is obesity a form of violence?

    But the most arresting question I have ever fielded followed a talk in which I explained the common place among scientists that mental life consists of patterns of activity in the tissues of the brain. A student in the audience raised her hand and asked me:

    "Why should I live?"

    The student's ingenuous tone made it clear that she was neither suicidal nor sarcastic but genuinely curious about how to find meaning and purpose if traditional religious beliefs about an immortal soul are undermined by our best science. My policy is that there is no such thing as a stupid question, and to the surprise of the student, the audience, and most of all myself, I mustered a reasonably creditable answer. What I recall saying-embellished, to be sure, by the distortions of memory and l'esprit de l'escalier, the wit of the staircase-went something like this:

    In the very act of asking that question, you are seeking reasons for your convictions, and so you are committed to reason as the means to discover and justify what is important to you. And there are so many reasons to live!

    As a sentient being, you have the potential to flourish. You can refine your faculty of reason itself by learning and debating. You can seek explanations of the natural world through science, and insight into the human condition through the arts and humanities. You can make the most of your capacity for pleasure and satisfaction, which allowed your ancestors to thrive and thereby allowed you to exist. You can appreciate the beauty and richness of the natural and cultural world. As the heir to billions of years of life perpetuating itself, you can perpetuate life in turn. You have been endowed with a sense of sympathy-the ability to like, love, respect, help, and show kindness-and you can enjoy the gift of mutual benevolence with friends, family, and colleagues.

    And because reason tells you that none of this is particular to you, you have the responsibility to provide to others what you expect for yourself. You can foster the welfare of other sentient beings by enhancing life, health, knowledge, freedom, abundance, safety, beauty, and peace. History shows that when we sympathize with others and apply our ingenuity to improving the human condition, we can make progress in doing so, and you can help to continue that progress.

    Explaining the meaning of life is not in the usual job description of a professor of cognitive science, and I would not have had the gall to take up her question if the answer depended on my arcane technical knowledge or my dubious personal wisdom. But I knew I was channeling a body of beliefs and values that had taken shape more than two centuries before me and that are now more relevant than ever: the ideals of the Enlightenment.

    The Enlightenment principle that we can apply reason and sympathy to enhance human flourishing may seem obvious, trite, old-fashioned. I wrote this book because I have come to realize that it is not. More than ever, the ideals of reason, science, humanism, and progress need a wholehearted defense. We take its gifts for granted: newborns who will live more than eight decades, markets overflowing with food, clean water that appears with a flick of a finger and waste that disappears with another, pills that erase a painful infection, sons who are not sent off to war, daughters who can walk the streets i
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Beschreibung

Produktdetails

Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 576
Erscheinungsdatum 13.02.2018
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-525-55902-3
Verlag Penguin LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 23.3/15.1/4.3 cm
Gewicht 593 g
Verkaufsrang 2499
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Fr. 23.90
Fr. 23.90
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