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A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
ONE OF THE ECONOMIST'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"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.
—Bill Gates (May, 2017)
Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year
The author of Enlightenment Now and The New York Times bestseller The Stuff of Thought offers a controversial history of violence.
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.
Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing—and why should we care? From the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now.
In this entertaining and eminently practical book, the cognitive scientist, dictionary consultant, and New York Times–bestselling author Steven Pinker rethinks the usage guide for the twenty-first century. Using examples of great and gruesome modern prose while avoiding the scolding tone and Spartan tastes of the classic manuals, he shows how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right. The Sense of Style is for writers of all kinds, and for readers who are interested in letters and literature and are curious about the ways in which the sciences of mind can illuminate how language works at its best.
"Sweeping, erudite, sharply argued, and fun to read..also highly persuasive." --Time
Now updated with a new afterword
One of the world's leading experts on language and the mind explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. With characteristic wit, lucidity, and insight, Pinker argues that the dogma that the mind has no innate traits-a doctrine held by many intellectuals during the past century-denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces objective analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of politics, violence, parenting, and the arts. Injecting calm and rationality into debates that are notorious for ax-grinding and mud-slinging, Pinker shows the importance of an honest acknowledgment of human nature based on science and common sense.
Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding--and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?
Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational--cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives, and set out the benchmarks for rationality itself. We actually think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we’ve discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. These tools are not a standard part of our education, and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book--until now.
Rationality also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity, and uplifting mythology can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth.
Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Brimming with Pinker’s customary insight and humor, Rationality will enlighten, inspire, and empower.
The classic book on the development of human language by the world’s leading expert on language and the mind.
In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.
"A model of scientific writing: erudite, witty, and clear." —New York Review of Books
In this Pulitzer Prize finalist and national bestseller, one of the world's leading cognitive scientists tackles the workings of the human mind. What makes us rational—and why are we so often irrational? How do we see in three dimensions? What makes us happy, afraid, angry, disgusted, or sexually aroused? Why do we fall in love? And how do we grapple with the imponderables of morality, religion, and consciousness? How the Mind Works synthesizes the most satisfying explanations of our mental life from cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and other fields to explain what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and contemplate the mysteries of life.
This edition of Pinker's bold and buoyant classic is updated with a new foreword by the author.
"Curious, inventive, fearless, naughty."
--The New York Times Book Review
Bestselling author Steven Pinker possesses that rare combination of scientific aptitude and verbal eloquence that enables him to provide lucid explanations of deep and powerful ideas. His previous books - including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Blank Slate - have catapulted him into the limelight as one of today's most important popular science writers. In The Stuff of Thought, Pinker presents a fascinating look at how our words explain our nature. Considering scientific questions with examples from everyday life, The Stuff of Thought is a brilliantly crafted and highly readable work that will appeal to fans of everything from The Selfish Gene and Blink to Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
In Words and Rules, Steven Pinker explores profound mysteries of language by picking a deceptively simple phenomenon -- regular and irregular verbs -- and examining it from every angle. With humor and verve, he covers an astonishing array of topics in the sciences and humanities, from the history of languages to how to simulate languages on computers to major ideas in the history of Western philosophy.
Through it all, Pinker presents a single, powerful idea: that language comprises a mental dictionary of memorized words and a mental grammar of creative rules. The idea extends beyond language and offers insight into the very nature of the human mind.
This is a sparkling, eye-opening, and utterly original book by one of the world's leading cognitive scientists.
En La tabla rasa, Steven Pinker explora la idea de la naturaleza humana y sus aspectos éticos, emocionales y políticos. Demuestra que muchos intelectuales han negado su existencia al defender tres dogmas entrelazados: la «tabla rasa» (la mente no tiene características innatas), el «buen salvaje» (la persona nace buena y la sociedad la corrompe) y el «fantasma en la máquina» (todos tenemos un alma que toma decisiones sin depender de la biología). Pinker aporta calma y serenidad a estos debates al mostrar que la igualdad, el progreso, la responsabilidad y el propósito nada tienen que temer de los descubrimientos sobre la complejidad de la naturaleza humana.
Si creías que el mundo estaba llegando a su fin, esto te interesa: vivimos más años y la salud nos acompaña, somos más libres y, en definitiva, más felices; y aunque los problemas a los que nos enfrentamos son extraordinarios, las soluciones residen en el ideal de la Ilustración: el uso de la razón y la ciencia.
En esta elegante evaluación de la condición humana en el tercer milenio, el científico cognitivo e intelectual Steven Pinker nos insta a ver con otra perspectiva los titulares alarmistas y las profecías de la perdición que juegan con nuestros prejuicios psicológicos. En cambio, haciendo uso de datos empíricos, muestra que la vida, la salud, la prosperidad, la seguridad, la paz, el conocimiento y la felicidad van en aumento, no solo en Occidente, sino en todo el mundo. Este progreso no es el resultado de alguna fuerza cósmica. Es un regalo de la Ilustración: la convicción de que la razón y la ciencia pueden mejorar el florecimiento humano.
Lejos de ser una esperanza ingenua, la Ilustración, ahora lo sabemos, ha funcionado. Pero hoy más que nunca necesita que la defendamos con vigor. Con profundidad intelectual y estilo literario, En defensa de la Ilustración defiende la razón, la ciencia y el humanismo: los ideales que necesitamos para enfrentar nuestros problemas y continuar nuestro progreso.
En Los ángeles que llevamos dentro, Steven Pinker nos expone las investigaciones que ha llevado a cabo sobre la preponderancia de la violencia a lo largo de la historia. Estas investigaciones le han llevado a concluir que, pese a las guerras actuales, vivimos en una época en la que la violencia ha disminuido enormemente respecto de tiempos pasados. Disfrutamos la paz de la que gozamos ahora porque las generaciones pasadas vivieron atenazadas por la violencia y ello les obligó a esforzarse para ponerle límites, y en el mundo contemporáneo somos nosotros quienes debemos trabajar para ponerle fin. No debemos dejarnos llevar por el optimismo pero, al menos, ahora sabemos que este es un objetivo que está a nuestro alcance.