The Better Angels of Our Nature
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26-07-2014, 04:46 PM
The Better Angels of Our Nature
I'm about to start the Steven Pinker book with the above title, in short it's his arguments laid out that we're currently the least violent we have ever been in the history of our species. He aims to convince the reader of this and explain why he thinks this has come about.

I am primarily curious as to whether or not people think he's right. I am not so sure either way, hence my asking the question and picking up the book.

I'll just play the 'can I help you' lick!!!
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26-07-2014, 06:02 PM
RE: The Better Angels of Our Nature
I'd be interested to know what his angle is - I've been on the point of picking the book up for a while. Ultimately I question as to whether it actually matters, if part of his argument is that it does then I'd be interested to read it...


"Name me a moral statement made or moral action performed that could not have been made or done, by a non-believer..." - Christopher Hitchens



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26-07-2014, 06:28 PM
RE: The Better Angels of Our Nature
(26-07-2014 06:02 PM)CiderThinker Wrote:  I'd be interested to know what his angle is - I've been on the point of picking the book up for a while. Ultimately I question as to whether it actually matters, if part of his argument is that it does then I'd be interested to read it...

I will give you a shout when I'm finished and try to clarify what his angle is. I'm interested to see if there is any link, from his point of view with increasing secularism and whether or not it has contributed to his percieved decrease in violence.

I'll just play the 'can I help you' lick!!!
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26-07-2014, 08:35 PM
RE: The Better Angels of Our Nature
I thought the book so vital I bought about 5 copies for friends.

Pinker's genesis for the book was his TED lecture on the subject. His closing note: "We're doing something right. It'd be nice to know what." led him to try to find out, and "Better Angels" posits several answers to the question.

I believe our fondness for disaster porn drives news sources to keep bleeding leading, and we wind up thinking the violence in the news represents a violent world. We forget that what's news is the way the world ISN'T; that's why it's news. Having forgot, we live in perpetual anxiety that our neighbor, our relative or some stranger will strike us with a pickaxe when our back is turned.

But that isn't how we die. Not any more. We die tedious deaths in nursing homes, our marbles gone, our bodies withered but sharp with pain. Pathogens and age are the enemy we forget does the real decimating, often by prolonged torture across years. People killed by bombs or guns are lucky; their deaths are quick.

And, as Pinker's book shows, are ever fewer.

I think the book important because by showing the diminishing violence that does us in, perhaps we'll stop thinking disaster porn that keeps us frightened all the time is what we should be spending all our time trying to prevent, and start giving our attention to the true and ghastly horror of what most of us will succumb to: disease and age, which, if not exactly violent, are the most dire hell of all human experience.
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26-07-2014, 08:37 PM
RE: The Better Angels of Our Nature
'Better angels of our nature' is a line from Lincoln's First Inaugural address.


Look what happened to him.

Atheism is NOT a Religion. It's A Personal Relationship With Reality!
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27-07-2014, 01:17 PM
RE: The Better Angels of Our Nature
I think Airportkid nailed it. I use the Ted talk as a response to the end-timers who repeat what they hear on Sundays , or on Fox News, that everything is worse than it has ever been.... Jesus must therefore be due back real soon now. This states the contrary case that things are, in many ways, quite peaceful on average.

As to what damage a few loons can do with the right equipment...that's another story.
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27-07-2014, 04:57 PM
RE: The Better Angels of Our Nature
Thanks for this guys, especially Airport kid, I didn't know there was a Tedtalk, I will certainly be checking that out!

I'll just play the 'can I help you' lick!!!
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