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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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"...an extraordinary range of research ... a masterly effort." — The Wall Street Journal
" ...Better Angels is a monumental achievement. His book should make it much harder for pessimists to cling to their gloomy vision of the future. Whether war is an ancient adaptation or a pernicious cultural infection, we are learning how to overcome it." — Slate.com --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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1. Our evolution from hunter gatherers into settled civilizations, which he calls the Pacification Process.
2. The consolidation of small kingdoms and duchies into large kingdoms with centralized authority and commerce, which he calls the Civilizing Process.
3. The emergence of Enlightenment philosophy, and it's respect for the individual through what he calls the Humanitarian Revolution.
4. Since World War II, violence has been suppressed, first by the overwhelming force of the two parties in the Cold War, and more recently by the American hegemony. Pinker calls this the Long Peace.
5. The general trend, even apart from the Cold War, of wars to be more infrequent, and less violent, however autocratic and anti-democratic the governments may be. Call this the New Peace.
6. Lastly, the growth of peace and domestic societies, and with it the diminishing level of violence through small things like schoolyard fights, bullying, and picking on gays and minorities. He titles this the Rights Revolution.
Pinker then goes on to examine the traditional explanations of violence, the traditional explanations of human nature which account for violence. There is practical violence, which you might call necessary violence. Then there are dominance, revenge, sadism, and ideologically driven violence. Opposing these are what he calls the better angels of human nature, empathy, self-control, our moral sense, and reason. Many of these characteristics are shared with our primate brethren, the chimpanzees on down, but some of them are uniquely human.Read more ›
Pinker's sequence of the decline in violence is based on synthesis of a large volume of literature generated by archaeologists, ethnologists, historians, sociologists, political scientists, and psychologists. Pre-state societies, while low in absolute population and absolute number of violent acts, had very high per capita levels of violence. The emergence of states resulted in some decline in violence and the gradual strengthening of the state resulted in a progressive decline in interpersonal violence, even as states became more capable of waging war. This is best documented in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present. Pinker highlights a number of important parallel processes. The "Civilizing Process" described by the great historical sociologist Norbert Elias of the increasing importance of self-control, manners, and social amity from the Renaissance onwards is prominently featured as a key feature in the decline of violence. Similarly, Pinker emphasizes the humanitarianism of the Enlightenment and subsequent reform movements. In the 20th century, the "Rights Revolution" that has brought widespread acceptance of religious and ethnic minorities, women, and homosexuals, is also discussed as improving our societies.Read more ›
Pinker blows the reader away (forgive the violent metaphor) with sheer weight of analytical shot. At 700 pages of text interspersed with graphs and heaps of reference data, "Better Angels" is thorough-going and methodical because it has to be; contradicting common folk theories (like the noble savage), overriding an often overwhelming sense of unceasing or imminent violence from media coverage (see compassion fatigue), and compensating for a general lack of statistical thinking and probabilistic understanding in the lay public is no easy task. People are right to be skeptical of controversial theories, and knowing this Pinker has patiently lain it all out for us to see for ourselves that violence truly has declined with clear and unambiguously downward direction.
"Better Angels" is structured around an inventory of six Trends, five Inner Demons with four Better Angels, and five Historical Forces (Pinker can't help but enumerate).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an interesting book, but his speculations (and that is what they are) as to the reasons for the decline in violence mostly ignore the one clearly measurable causal factor:... Read morePublished 7 days ago by J. M. Brown
Learning that violence has declined and understanding the factors that lead and contribute to this decline could be the most important things to know in the world today. Really. Read morePublished 27 days ago by DavidA
Violence has NOT declined. We just moved from "clubbing people to death" to drone bombing, invasions, economic hit-men, wage slavery, #bullshitjobs, pollution, depressions... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Christian Baker
What an awesome audio book!!! On the one hand, it's very difficult to hear how incredibly violent we've been to each other and to animals across the ages. And on the other hand!... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This is an awesome book. Beware, not a light read but well worth the journey.Published 1 month ago by frank font
I learned a lot with this book about history, human psicology, sociology and other topics. For me it will be a useful reference to come back in the future. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Carlos Mendez Cali
I listened to this book on tape and for the first couple of chapters I was a bit on the fence. If I had written a review for this book after listening to the first third of the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Brian C.
Although at times the book reads like a survey of social pschylogy studies I've heard about over the years, this book is an insightful and thought provoking dive into the forces... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Szymon Rozga