"My new favorite book of all time." —Bill Gates
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 75 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, Pinker makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.
Enlightenment Wars: Some Reflections on ‘Enlightenment Now,’ One Year Later
Adaptations and Essays
New York Times Notable Books of 2018
Reply to a 2019 article in Salon by P. Torres
Reply to a 2019 article in The Guardian by J. Hickel
Letter to the New York Times Book Review in reply to Timothy Snyder