The better angels of our nature : why violence has declined / Steven Pinker.

Pinker, Steven, 1954- author.
Other Title:
Why violence has declined
New York, New York : Penguin Books, 2012. , ©2011
xxviii, 802 pages : illustrations , maps, charts ; 23 cm.
Violence -- Psychological aspects.
Violence -- Social aspects.
Nonviolence -- Psychological aspects.
Nonviolence -- Psychological aspects.
Violence -- Psychological aspects.
Violence -- Social aspects.
Politische Soziologie.
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.
List of figures
Foreign Country. Human prehistory ; Homeric Greece ; Hebrew bible ; Roman Empire and early Christendom ; Medieval knights ; Early modern Europe ; Honor in Europe and the early United States ; 20th century
Pacification process. Logic of violence ; Violence in human ancestors ; Kinds of human societies ; Rates of violence in state and nonstate societies ; Civilization and its discontents
Civilizing Process. European homicide decline ; Explaining the European homicide decline ; Violence and class ; Violence around the world ; Violence in these United States ; Decivilization in the 1960s ; Recivilization in the 1990s
Humanitarian Revolution. Superstitious killing: human sacrifice, witchcraft, and blood libel ; Superstitious killing: violence against blasphemers, heretics, and apostates ; Cruel and unusual punishments ; Capital punishment ; Slavery ; Despotism and political violence ; Major war ; Whence the humanitarian revolution? ; Rise of empathy and the regard for human life ; Republic of letters and enlightenment humanism ; Civilization and enlightenment ; Blood and soil
Long Peace. Statistics and narratives ; Was the 20th century really the worst? ; Statistics Of Deadly Quarrels, Part 1: Timing of wars ; Statistics Of Deadly Quarrels, Part 2: Magnitude of wars ; Trajectory of great power war ; Trajectory of European war ; Hobbesian background and the ages of dynasties and religions ; Three currents in the age of sovereignty ; Counter-enlightenment ideologies and the age of nationalism ; Humanism and totalitarianism in the age of ideology ; Long Peace: Some numbers ; Long Peace: Attitudes and events ; Is the long peace a nuclear peace? ; Is the long peace a democratic peace? ; Is the long peace a liberal peace? ; Is the long peace a Kantian peace?
New Peace. Trajectory of war in the rest of the world ; Trajectory of genocide ; Trajectory of terrorism ; Where angels fear to tread
Rights Revolutions. Civil rights and the decline of lynching and racial pogroms ; Women's rights and the decline of rape and battering ; Children's rights and the decline of infanticide, spanking, child abuse, and bullying ; Gay rights, the decline of gay-bashing, and the decriminalization of homosexuality ; Animal rights and the decline of cruelty of animals ; Whence the rights revolutions? ; From history to psychology
Inner Demons. Dark side ; Moralization gap and the myth of pure evil ; Organs of violence ; Predation ; Dominance ; Revenge ; Sadism ; Ideology ; Pure evil, inner demons, and the decline of violence
Better Angles. Empathy ; Self-control ; Recent biological evolution? ; Morality and taboo ; Reason. On Angel's Wings. Important but inconsistent ; Pacifist's dilemma ; Leviathan ; Gentle commerce ; Feminization ; Expanding circle ; Escalator of reason ; Reflections
References Index.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 739-771) and index.
Originally published in hardcover in 2011 by Viking.
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