Enlightenment now by Steven Pinker
Enlightenment now by Steven Pinker. The case for reason, science, humanism and progress. I enjoyed this book a lot. It makes you think about the world around us, how much better is now compared to only 100 years ago. It’s a great period to live in and it gets better and better by the decades
What I loved about the book is that Pinker uses data, lots of data, mostly in graphs. You just can’t argue with cold data. The book is divided in three parts: enlightenment, progress, and reason, science, and humanism. In the part he talks about progress, he mentions all aspects that are important, life, health, sustenance, wealth, inequality, environment, peace, safety, terrorism, democracy, knowledge, quality of life, happiness, and existential threats. For us, looking at political TV shows and news, we might be excused if we believe that the world is getting worse and not better. This is called availability bias. You can read more about this in a book that Pinker mentions too, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (link to my review of the book).
The truth is that today we are living longer, are healthier, have food, inequality is not a problem like it was before, there are less wars, thus we are safer, we can choose, can learn, have a better quality of life and we are happier. The book is not meant to show only the positives with pink-coloured glasses. He talks about the issues we face with the environment, if we don’t do anything, for example.
One of the things I want to mention from the book is about inequality. He gives a great example: J. K. Rowling. She got rich because millions of people bought her books and saw the movies made after her books. He challenges the well known idea of inequality as greedy companies, and not artists who make all our lives better and happier with their art. He says, and I agree with him, that inequality is not bad, poverty is. The happiest countries are the ones that are more unequal, not more equal. Another example he uses is of a woman in her 50s who lives in a village, illiterate, with half of her children dead, and a life expectancy of 50. She is equal to all the other people in her village. Compare this woman with another one, from a rich country, she is educated, visited a few countries, has healthy children, and will die at 80. But she is stuck in a lower middle class, never being able to reach the level of wealth of other people in her own city. I imagine everybody will say the second option is preferable, despite the huge inequality.
I hope I made you want to read the book. It is great. It makes you think and wonder, puts things into a different perspective. We live in a wonderful time and we should celebrate this as long as we know what still needs addressing and improving.
Enlightenment now by Steven Pinker
Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Allen Lane
Year it was published: 2018
Genre(s): Non-fiction. Philosophy
About the author: Steven Pinker is a Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He wrote nine books, including The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Sense of Style, How the Mind Works.
Book I’ve reviewed by Steven Pinker: The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
Website & Social Media Links: stevenpinker.com