Steven Pinker's Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined: True or mixed?

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,024
Sydney
The church through the monasteries and universities was a major compiler of knowledge and intellectual discussions
some which went on for centuries
while it was as repressive as any main stream dogma , it allowed deep investigation in the physical world , human nature and motivations

the Chinese examination system was totally stultifying , there were the classics and that's that

Muslim intellectual life was slowly suffocated after promising beginnings ....I blame the Ottomans

the Jewish inquiries got lost in metaphysical rambling , even if they acted as a partial bridge between the Ancient , Muslims and Medieval world
beside Spinoza ( who got severely rejected by the Amsterdam Jewish rabbis ) their main concern was the texts , never much inquiring about the world outside

India contribution was similarly misled , in spite of promising background

To state than Christianity was backward miss the difference between Christian intellectual life and the Church apparatus
it is telling that Cardinal Bellarmine went out of his way NOT to burn Galileo , providing him with every opportunity to escape this fate
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,623
Florania
The church through the monasteries and universities was a major compiler of knowledge and intellectual discussions
some which went on for centuries
while it was as repressive as any main stream dogma , it allowed deep investigation in the physical world , human nature and motivations

the Chinese examination system was totally stultifying , there were the classics and that's that

Muslim intellectual life was slowly suffocated after promising beginnings ....I blame the Ottomans

the Jewish inquiries got lost in metaphysical rambling , even if they acted as a partial bridge between the Ancient , Muslims and Medieval world
beside Spinoza ( who got severely rejected by the Amsterdam Jewish rabbis ) their main concern was the texts , never much inquiring about the world outside

India contribution was similarly misled , in spite of promising background

To state than Christianity was backward miss the difference between Christian intellectual life and the Church apparatus
it is telling that Cardinal Bellarmine went out of his way NOT to burn Galileo , providing him with every opportunity to escape this fate
The Catholic Church might have preserved many of the texts, and the relative positive aspect of Christianity is that Christians (usually) don't just
devote to the Christian Bible; they have many interests as well.
Should I ask how compass, paper, gunpowder, and printing press came to Europe?
Many lament the end of the Song Dynasty, which was considered one of the most liberal and open Chinese dynasties.
Initially, the Chinese civil exam system was a progress for its time; it was way more progressive than the class system or earlier, the recommendation
system.
Time corrupted, and the Chinese civil exam system started to consume all the energy and devotion of almost all literate Chinese.
India has many religious traditions.
Yuval Noah Harari's suggestion is that the West acknowledged its ignorance and was willing to explore, this might have to been the key point.
 

fascinating

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,378
Yuval Noah Harari's suggestion is that the West acknowledged its ignorance and was willing to explore, this might have to been the key point.
I would rather say that the West was, by geography, close to many different cultures which fed in many different ideas, and people had to learn to look at ideas critically and try to choose the most suitable.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,024
Sydney
Yuval Noah Harari's suggestion is that the West acknowledged its ignorance and was willing to explore, this might have to been the key point.

with all reservations one might present , this is the glorious crown of thorn of Christendom

Certainty is the death of the mind
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,623
Florania
One of the worst books I've read in a long while. He blatantly distorts evidence and clearly hoped that nobody would actually read the footnotes. Honestly where to even begin. His figures on the worst episodes of death and destruction are hopelessly wrong, and these form the cornerstone of his argument: no, the An Lushan revolt was not nearly that bloody, nor were the Mongol conquests. To come to this conclusion you'd have to not have even read a single book on the Tang, since every academic study on the subject I've seen notes how this (and other census drops) represented a loss in centralized control, not a population disaster. Not to mention trying to claim the European conquest of the Americas was one of the worst wars (while lasting for hundreds of years) while ignoring the Spanish influenza in the 20th century, since most of the casualties in the former were from disease and not war. Then there's the using of medieval children's books as evidence that they were violence happy, relying excessively on limited and dubious medieval crime data. Worst of all, he seems to think that you can just look at big headline events and not analyzing the overall violence per year (or some other metric) in each time period, which is not very realistic. Of course when you do that the twentieth century looks a lot worse...

His point may be right (who can say) but the evidence he supplies is so lacking and cherry picked. No wonder no academics even bothered to review it.
This book is better to be treated as an introduction to many ideas; Steven Pinker is a professional cognitive scientist and linguist, while he often
attempts to tackle the bigger questions, and this book is one of the example.
Even when he wrote on his field of expertise, the Language Instinct is controversial for linguists. (Note that I was a linguistics student back then.)
Steven Pinker and Noam Chomsky are somewhat similar; both wrote on big topics that are not their expertise.
 
Oct 2019
65
United States
Why did "Rights Revolution" come relatively late?
More free time to fume and post selfies on facebook.
Can we explain why Humanitarian Revolution and Rights Revolution happened in the West? Don't say Christianity; Christianity was (or still is) one
of the major forces that hinder progresses; enlightenment and secularism have more to do with such progresses.
They're rooted in Pauline Universalism, are they not? Its been said, by Igor Shafarevich I think, maybe sooner than he, that the Enlightenment was yet another millenarian heresy.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,024
Sydney
individualism in the West can be nailed on the Italian Renaissance ,
medieval Europe didn't believe in the individual worth only on individual sins
 
Feb 2018
235
US
This book is better to be treated as an introduction to many ideas; Steven Pinker is a professional cognitive scientist and linguist, while he often
attempts to tackle the bigger questions, and this book is one of the example.
Even when he wrote on his field of expertise, the Language Instinct is controversial for linguists. (Note that I was a linguistics student back then.)
Steven Pinker and Noam Chomsky are somewhat similar; both wrote on big topics that are not their expertise.
It's fine that Pinker is controversial and that he's working out of his area of expertise. It's unacceptable that he deliberately distorts the evidence to argue his overall thesis. That just completely ruins the credibility of his argument. I did not read 'The Language Instinct,' but I did like 'The Blank Slate' so I don't think that he's inherently a dirty scholar. Just for this book he seems to have been willing to lie in order to tell people what they want to hear.