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.
"My new favorite book of all time" - Bill Gates's Blog
"An optimistic treatise celebrates the enlightened thinking" - ScienceMag
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 and one of Foreign Policy‘s 100 Leading Global Thinkers. His books include The Stuff of Thought, The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Blank Slate, and The Sense of Style.
Visit his website at https://stevenpinker.com/
Pinker’s gift is to challenge us not only to update the Enlightenment but to think beyond it.
—Caroline Winterer, Washington Post
Magnificent, uplifting and makes you want to rush to your laptop and close your Twitter account.
Steven Pinker’s mind bristles with pure, crystalline intelligence, deep knowledge and human sympathy. And he writes as he thinks, with a sinewy mot-justery of language which I find irresistible.
In an era of increasingly dystopian rhetoric, Pinker’s sober, lucid, and meticulously researched vision of human progress is heartening and important.
“Elegantly [argues] that in various ways humanity has every reason to be optimistic over life in the twenty-first century…. A defense of progress that will provoke deep thinking and thoughtful discourse among his many fans.”.
—Colleen Mondor, Booklist