Books: Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Touted as Bill Gates’ new favorite book of all time, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (Viking) presents a scientifically woven solution to some of the most formidable global threats of our time. In a time in which fundamental questions are being raised about the progress of mankind and the unraveling of the fiber of society, author and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker asks the reader to take a step back from the negative psychological influences circulated in the press. Pinker believes that using the enlightenment of science and reason is the solution to overcoming doomsday thinking and paving the way to happier and freer lives for all. The answer lies in the data — 75 intricately fashioned graphs, to be exact — which show how critical elements of survival such as health, peace, safety, knowledge, and happiness are increasing across the world.

Pinker believes this progress is not attributed to some force beyond our control but rather a gift of the Enlightenment: the belief that science and reason can be applied to help humanity to thrive. While you would not be judged for thinking this concept leans towards the naïve, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress provides a seminal argument that will make even the most devout naysayer at least consider Pinker’s reasoning. Truly, Pinker does a monumental job of defending with clarity his progressive ideals against modern philosophers, critics, and politicians to showcase exactly how humanity has progressed since the application of reason and science.

Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, is more focused on how we should be thinking as opposed to what we think. When pondering the great global threats of our time (think food security, climate change, and war), Pinker urges readers to change the way they think about these, assuming a pragmatic problem-solving approach as opposed to being crippled by fear and undigested anxiety.

Written with distinct flair and intellectual force, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress makes a solid case for the powers of reason and science: the principles required to challenge and solve our problems and continue along the path of progress and positivity. Described by many of the world’s leading economic and scientific publications as “magnificent”, “uplifting”, and “honest”, Pinker’s latest offering presents a refreshing challenge to what you think you know and, as you turn the last page, you will be instilled with a new sense of hope for our world.

 

Pinker’s gift is to challenge us not only to update the Enlightenment but to think beyond it.

Caroline Winterer, Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Stanford Humanities Center, US
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