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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

af Steven Pinker

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler / Omtaler
2,825724,965 (4.13)1 / 59
We've all asked, "What is the world coming to?" But we seldom ask, "How bad was the world in the past?" In this startling new book, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the past was much worse. Evidence of a bloody history has always been around us: genocides in the Old Testament, gory mutilations in Shakespeare and Grimm, monarchs who beheaded their relatives, and American founders who dueled with their rivals. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were common features of life for millennia, then were suddenly abolished. How could this have happened, if human nature has not changed? Pinker argues that thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence.--From publisher description.… (mere)
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» Se også 59 omtaler

Engelsk (66)  Hollandsk (3)  Spansk (1)  Tysk (1)  Alle sprog (71)
Viser 1-5 af 71 (næste | vis alle)
Lots of gory detail on violence of the past and a generally convincing thesis in good style... Yes, we are not as violent, not in the same way, as a society.

However I would have preferred of the book was shorter and more to the point. I walk away with lots of extra visions of medieval torture that I had managed to avoid to date. ( )
  yates9 | Feb 28, 2024 |
[Pre-reading comments. I ordered this one from the library because it's one of Bill Gates's recommendations for the year. I was dismayed when it came and I saw that it not only is 700 pages long (not 806 as listed here; there's a hundred pages of back matter), but has narrow margins, small type, and almost no white space on the pages. I bet it's the equivalent of a thousand pages of more conventional book design. Yikes! But as I flipped through it reading a paragraph here and there I kept thinking, "hm, that's interesting." Let's see how far I get in it.]

Aaand no. Sorry. I just kept picking up other books instead.

  JudyGibson | Jan 26, 2023 |
Overwhelming argument that human society has become less violent over time. Nice to read some good news for a change. But proving it involves hundreds of pages about how awful people are to each other - fortunately less awful now than in the past. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millenia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species's existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, programs, gruesom punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened?

This groundbreaking book continues Pinker's exploration of the esesnce of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives--the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away--and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail. Exploding fatalist myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious and provocative book is sure to be hotly debated in living rooms and the Pentagon alike, and will challenge and change the way we think about our society. ( )
  Karen74Leigh | Aug 1, 2022 |
Excellent book. But somewhat long. At times it seemed like he wanted to bludgeon us with more and more data to prove his point. By the end I was finding it a little redundant and looking forward to the end.

But overall, a book I learned a lot from. ( )
  smbass | Jan 30, 2022 |
Viser 1-5 af 71 (næste | vis alle)
But in its confidence and sweep, the vast timescale, its humane standpoint and its confident world-view, it is something more than a science book: it is an epic history by an optimist who can list his reasons to be cheerful and support them with persuasive instances.

I don't know if he's right, but I do think this book is a winner.
tilføjet af Widsith | RedigerThe Guardian, Tim Radford (Nov 19, 2012)
 
The biggest problem with the book, though, is its overreliance on history, which, like the light on a caboose, shows us only where we are not going.
 
“The Better Angels of Our Nature” is a supremely important book. To have command of so much research, spread across so many different fields, is a masterly achievement. Pinker convincingly demonstrates that there has been a dramatic decline in violence, and he is persuasive about the causes of that decline.
 
While Pinker makes a great show of relying on evidence—the 700-odd pages of this bulky treatise are stuffed with impressive-looking graphs and statistics—his argument that violence is on the way out does not, in the end, rest on scientific investigation. He cites numerous reasons for the change, including increasing wealth and the spread of democracy. For him, none is as important as the adoption of a particular view of the world: “The reason so many violent institutions succumbed within so short a span of time was that the arguments that slew them belong to a coherent philosophy that emerged during the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment. The ideas of thinkers like Hobbes, Spinoza, Descartes, Locke, David Hume, Mary Astell, Kant, Beccaria, Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and John Stuart Mill coalesced into a worldview that we can call Enlightenment humanism.”
tilføjet af atbradley | RedigerProspect, John Gray (Sep 21, 2011)
 
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What a chimera then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos,

what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm,

repository of truth, sewer of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of

the universe. 

   — Blaise Pascal
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If the past is a foreign country, it is a shockingly violent one.
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We've all asked, "What is the world coming to?" But we seldom ask, "How bad was the world in the past?" In this startling new book, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the past was much worse. Evidence of a bloody history has always been around us: genocides in the Old Testament, gory mutilations in Shakespeare and Grimm, monarchs who beheaded their relatives, and American founders who dueled with their rivals. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were common features of life for millennia, then were suddenly abolished. How could this have happened, if human nature has not changed? Pinker argues that thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence.--From publisher description.

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