Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

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An irony skilfully evaded by Pinker is that there are whole (coherent) systems of thought that make the same claims against the Enlightenment.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"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.
 

About Steven Pinker

See more books from this Author
Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He is the author of seven books, including The Blank Slate.
 
Published February 13, 2018 by Viking. 576 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Mar 04 2018
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Critic reviews for Enlightenment Now
All: 8 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Good
on Nov 26 2017

For those inclined to believe that the end is not nigh and who would like to keep up with recent science, this book is a…well, not a godsend, but a gift all the same.

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Philly.com

Above average
Reviewed by Glenn C. Altschuler on Feb 19 2018

...Pinker's "conditional optimism" and his claim that "problems are solvable" underestimate, at times, the political and cultural challenges...That said, at a time when science, reason, and objectivity are being stigmatized, Enlightenment Now is an urgently needed reminder...

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https://bookpage.com

Above average
Reviewed by Kelly Blewett on Mar 01 2018

To settle in with Enlightenment Now is to receive the sense that, on the whole, life is on the upswing and, to quote from the popular musical Hamilton, we should “look around” and acknowledge “how lucky we are to be alive right now!”

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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by John Semley on Feb 28 2018

An irony skilfully evaded by Pinker is that there are whole (coherent) systems of thought that make the same claims against the Enlightenment.

Read Full Review of Enlightenment Now: The Case f... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

https://www.irishtimes.com

Below average
Reviewed by Joe Humphreys on Feb 24 2018

Had Pinker finished the book at page 345 he would have got five stars from this reviewer but, in the last section he embarks on a proselytising mission to proclaim “humanism” as the only legitimate moral framework.

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https://reason.com

Above average
Reviewed by Ronald Bailey on Feb 21 2018

As the true heirs of the Enlightenment, contemporary classical liberals will find much that Pinker has to say quite congenial. Enlightenment Now strikes a powerful blow against the contemporary mystifications being peddled by tribalists on both the left and the right.

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https://eandt.theiet.org

Above average
Reviewed by Josh Loeb on Mar 01 2018

Quibbles aside, I commend ‘Enlightenment Now’ for providing a robust rebuke to the naysayers and doom-mongers who think our civilisation is going to hell in a handcart. Pleasingly, it turns out things aren’t so bad after all - and we shouldn't be so shy about saying so.

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https://www.thejc.com

Above average
Reviewed by JP O'Malley on Mar 01 2018

The book also attempts to restate the ideals of that progressive intellectual movement from 18th-century western Europe — the Enlightenment — and give those ideals relevance for the present day.

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https://www.csmonitor.com

Good
Reviewed by Rayyan Al-Shawaf on Feb 27 2018

...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.

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Reader Rating for Enlightenment Now
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