A reading club with a view to the future

400 Steven Pinker: Enlightenment Now

Enlightenment values and progress have led to significant improvements in human well-being across various domains.



"Enlightenment Now" by Steven Pinker is a comprehensive exploration of the progress and advancements achieved by humanity through the application of reason, science, and humanistic values. Pinker argues that despite the prevailing pessimism, the world has become a better place over time. He presents evidence from various domains, including health, education, prosperity, and human rights, to demonstrate that progress is a result of embracing Enlightenment principles.


Title: Enlightenment Now

Author: Steven Pinker

Publishing Year: 2018

Publisher: Penguin Books

Length in Hours: 23 hours and 44 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The principles of the Enlightenment, such as reason, science, and humanism, have driven remarkable progress throughout history.
  2. Humanity has made significant strides in reducing poverty, improving healthcare, and extending life expectancy.
  3. Education and literacy rates have increased, empowering individuals and fostering social development.
  4. Technological advancements, driven by scientific discovery, have led to improved living standards and expanded possibilities.
  5. Challenges and setbacks exist, but embracing Enlightenment values and rational thinking can help overcome them and continue progress.

5 funny quotes

  1. "If you could time-travel to the year 1900, with all your talent and knowledge, you'd be a star. And they'd call you... 'The Wizard of 1900'!"
  2. "Imagine telling someone from the Middle Ages that in the future, people would carry around tiny devices in their pockets with access to all of human knowledge. They'd accuse you of practicing dark magic!"
  3. "Progress is like a marathon with obstacles along the way. Sometimes we stumble, but as long as we keep running forward, we'll reach the finish line."
  4. "The Enlightenment: Where the pen is mightier than the sword, and the printing press is mightier than the pen!"
  5. "In the battle of ideas, reason is our superhero, armed with the powers of evidence and critical thinking."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Progress is not a miracle, but rather a result of applying reason, knowledge, and empathy to solve human problems." - Steven Pinker
  2. "The enlightenment is working. Don't let pessimism cloud your judgment." - Steven Pinker
  3. "Science and reason have proven to be the most reliable tools for understanding the world and improving human well-being." - Steven Pinker
  4. "Human progress is not a linear path, but the overall trend is undeniably upward." - Steven Pinker
  5. "Enlightenment ideals have given us the power to shape our own destiny and create a better future for all."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing individual privacy with the need for enhanced security measures in an increasingly interconnected world.
  2. Navigating the ethical implications of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.
  3. Striking a balance between economic growth and environmental sustainability to ensure a prosperous and habitable future.
  4. Addressing the tensions between cultural diversity and universal human rights in a globalized society.
  5. Managing the potential risks and benefits of social media and online platforms in promoting free speech while preventing misinformation and harmful content.

5 examples

  1. In the chapter on health, Pinker cites the eradication of diseases like smallpox and the significant decline in global child mortality rates.
  2. Pinker highlights the technological advancements in agriculture that have led to increased food production and a reduction in global hunger.
  3. The book presents examples of countries that have embraced democratic institutions and human rights, leading to social progress and improved quality of life.
  4. Pinker discusses how the spread of education and literacy has empowered women and marginalized communities, fostering equality and social mobility.
  5. The book showcases how scientific innovations, such as renewable energy technologies, are driving sustainable development and addressing environmental challenges.

Referenced books

  1. "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith
  2. "On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill
  3. "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin
  4. "The Second Sex" by Simone de Beauvoir
  5. "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas S. Kuhn

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"The Enlightenment: Where the pen is mightier than the sword, and the printing press is mightier than the pen!"

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