The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

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Penguin Books, 2012 - Psychology - 802 pages
Overview: 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 millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species' existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, pogroms, gruesome 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 essence 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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AshRyan - LibraryThing

Historical perspective and statistical analysis shed new light on trends in violence Follow any major news media outlet (and most of the minor ones) and it's easy to get the impression that the world ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - eglinton - LibraryThing

Society is not broken, and the world is less scarred by violence than at any time in history. It's not a jungle out there. In fact, we're all getting nicer and nicer, except perhaps in a few marginal ... Read full review

Contents

Figure
25
The Medieval Housebook 147580
65
Violence Around the World
85
Violence in These United States
91
Decivilization in the 1960s
106
Recivilization in the 1990s
116
Canada 19612009
117
THE HUMANITARIAN REVOLUTION
129
Is the Long Peace a Liberal Peace?
284
The Trajectory of War in the Rest of the World
297
The Trajectory of Genocide
320
The Trajectory of Terrorism
344
Where Angels Fear to Tread
361
THE RIGHTS REVOLUTIONs
378
Womens Rights and the Decline of Rape and Battering
394
Childrens Rights and the Decline of Infanticide Spanking
415

Violence Against Blasphemers Heretics
139
Capital Punishment
149
Despotism and Political Violence
158
Whence the Humanitarian Revolution?
168
The Rise of Empathy and the Regard for Human Life
175
Civilization and Enlightenment
185
Was the 20th Century Really the Worst?
193
The Timing of Wars
200
The Magnitude of Wars
210
The Trajectory of Great Power War
222
The Trajectory of European War
228
Three Currents in the Age of Sovereignty
235
Humanism and Totalitarianism in the Age of Ideology
244
Attitudes and Events
255
Is the Long Peace a Nuclear Peace?
268
Is the Long Peace a Democratic Peace?
278
Gay Rights the Decline of GayBashing and the Decriminalization
447
Whence the Rights Revolutions?
475
The Moralization Gap and the Myth of Pure Evil
488
Predation
509
Revenge
529
Sadism
547
Pure Evil Inner Demons and the Decline of Violence
569
SelfControl
592
on ANGELS WINGs
671
The Pacifists Dilemma
678
Feminization
684
The Escalator of Reason
690
NOTES
697
REFERENCES
739
INDEX
773
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Steven Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind. His popular and highly praised books include Words and Rules, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. The recipient of several major awards for his teaching and scientific research, Pinker is Peter de Florez professor of psychology in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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