Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress is now out. I plan on reading it this weekend front to back.
Over the past few years, it’s not a secret that I’ve become more skeptical of the possibilities for humanism and progress. The case for reason and science are obviously clear, but that’s because reason and science aren’t fundamentally normative issues. Humanism and progress are grounded in norms.
Of course, I’ve long been more and more partial to the Scottish Enlightenment, which is more conservative and cautious than that of the French. In the current year, I’m a conservative liberal. But I am gloomy on the prospects for liberalism in the near term future.
Seth Largo distills may of my core intuitions:
There is no such thing as moral arcs or progress. But there is tech progress. It's not "better angels of our nature" so much as tech taming the devils of our nature. Either way, I'm glad Pinker is around to make a needed counter-statement to gloom.
— Seth Largo (@SethLargo) February 11, 2018