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Is modernity really failing? Or have we failed to appreciate progress and the ideals that make it possible?
If you follow the headlines, the world in the 21st century appears to be sinking into chaos, hatred and irrationality. Yet, as Steven Pinker shows, if you follow the trendlines, you discover that our lives have become longer, healthier, safer and more prosperous - not just in the West but worldwide.
Such progress is no accident: it's the gift of a coherent value system that many of us embrace without even realising it. These are the values of the Enlightenment: of reason, science, humanism and progress. The challenges we face today are formidable. But the way to deal with them is not to sink into despair or try to lurch back to a mythical idyllic past; it's to treat them as problems we can solve, as we have solved other problems in the past. This is the case for an Enlightenment newly recharged for the 21st century.
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© Steven Pinker 2018 (P) Penguin Audio 2018
My new favourite book of all time
Exhilarating, magnificent, uplifting
This is the biggest story of our time. It's about the many ways in which the world is improving, and why we don't believe it
Pinker is right. Not just a bit right, but completely, utterly, incontrovertibly right ... for most people, life is better, even if they don't realise it
Awesome. The confidence with which Pinker tears through the issues that cause such deep anxiety today is compelling
A characteristically fluent, decisive and data-rich demonstration of why, given the chance to live at any point in human history, only a stone-cold idiot would choose any time other than the present
A new, optimistic view of the world ... Things are not as bad as your Facebook news feed makes them seem ... a cheerful, contrarian tract for dark times
A goldmine of startling graphs and killer facts about the way we live now. Everyone should read this book and, just for once, be enthralled by what humankind has achieved
Brimming with surprising data and entertaining anecdotes ... a genuinely enlightening book
Today we are living healthier, wealthier lives - and it's thanks to the values of the Enlightenment ... a passionate book in praise of Enlightenment values