Front cover image for The better angels of our nature : why violence has declined

The better angels of our nature : why violence has declined

Steven Pinker (Author)
This volume argues that violence in the world has declined both in the long run and in the short, and suggests explanations why this has happened. The author maintains that the key to explaining the decline of violence is to understand the "inner demons" that incline us toward violence and the "better angels" that steer us away. Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence. The book is divided into 2 parts. The first part is an effort to describe a broad sweep of human history from prehistoric societies to the present, arguing for a progressive though intermittent decline in violence in human societies. The second part is an effort to understand the underpinnings of the decline in violence in terms of human psychological processes
Print Book, English, 2011
Viking, New York, 2011
Electronic books (ebook, e-book)
xxviii, 802 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
9780670022953, 0670022950
A foreign country : Human prehistory ; Homeric Greece ; The Hebrew Bible ; The Roman Empire and early Christendom ; Medieval knights ; Early modern Europe ; Honor in Europe and the early United States ; The 20th century
The pacification process : The logic of violence ; Violence in human ancestors ; Kinds of human societies ; Rates of violence in state and nonstate societies ; Civilization and its discontents
The civilizing process : The 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
The 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? ; The rise of empathy and the regard for human life ; The republic of letters and enlightenment humanism ; Civilization and enlightenment ; Blood and soil
The long peace : Statistics and narratives ; Was the 20th century really the worst? ; The statistics of deadly quarrels, part 1: the timing of wars ; The statistics of deadly quarrels, part 2: the magnitude of wars ; The trajectory of great power war ; The trajectory of European war ; The 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 ; The long peace: some numbers ; The 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?
The new peace : The trajectory of war in the rest of the world ; The trajectory of genocide ; The trajectory of terrorism ; Where angels fear to tread
The 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 to animals ; Whence the rights revolutions? ; From history to psychology
Inner demons : The dark side ; The 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 angels : Empathy ; Self-control ; Recent biological evolution? ; Morality and taboo ; Reason
On angels' wings : Important but inconsistent ; The pacifist's dilemma ; The Leviathan ; Gentle commerce ; Feminization ; The expanding circle ; The escalator of reason ; Reflections Additional Information at Google Books