Regular price: $38.50

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

The follow-up to Pinker's groundbreaking The Better Angels of Our Nature presents the big picture of human progress: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science. 

Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing. 

Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature--tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking--which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation. 

With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress. 

Includes a Bonus PDF with charts and graphs.  

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2018 Steven Pinker (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

  "Narrator Arthur Morey hits the sweet spot with a balanced delivery pairing clarity and judicious pace to make Pinker's timely and uplifting message accessible to the thoughtful listener.... Listeners who enjoy a challenge will find this beautifully written, masterfully presented audiobook rewarding." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,565
  • 4 Stars
    507
  • 3 Stars
    170
  • 2 Stars
    44
  • 1 Stars
    50

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,238
  • 4 Stars
    551
  • 3 Stars
    124
  • 2 Stars
    26
  • 1 Stars
    35

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,212
  • 4 Stars
    482
  • 3 Stars
    153
  • 2 Stars
    43
  • 1 Stars
    50
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

We live in the best of all times

Did you know that the life expectancy, globally, today is 71 years whereas 200 years ago the life expectancy was 31?. Did you know that there is a much smaller chance today that you will be murdered, go to war, die in a plane or car crash, or die from a lightning strike than in any other time in history? Did you know that a higher proportion of people are born into democracies and have access to sufficient food and money than ever before? To quote a quote from this book: “If you could choose to be born anytime, you would choose now” - Barack Obama

Steven Pinker is, without doubt, one of the most important and knowledgeable intellectuals in the world today. With Enlightenment Now, he proves this point again. Few write as well as Pinker. And even fewer can pack so much information and statistics into a book and still maintain such beautiful prose. Even if you only remember a small part of all the knowledge you will acquire if you read this book, you will have learned a lot.

The book has two parts. The first and longest part (around 20 chapters) describes the progress that has occurred in a number of different areas of life (see below). The second part of the book is a defense of the ideas of the enlightenment - the ideas that are responsible for much of the progress that has been observed. Below is a non-exhaustive list of topics reviewed by Pinker in this book


Life duration - Life expectancy, at any age, is longer today than it has ever been i.e. old people today also have a longer life expectancy than old people in the past

Economics - We are much much richer and every day another 130.000 people in the world exits extreme poverty

Access to food - All parts of the world have access to more food, in the west, the poor are often obese

Equality - There is more equality between the genders and between different ethnic groups and people (especially youth) value equality more than ever before

The environment - Climate change IS a potential concern however we are making progress and in most other respects the environment is getting better: more trees, cleaner air etc. As we are entering the digital age we are also using fewer resources (paper, plastics etc).

Wars - Whereas wars used to be the norm, there are no wars between major powers today and even with the terrible civil war in Syria, casualties are nowhere near that in previous wars

Accidents - People are less likely to die from car crashes, lightning strikes, falls etc. We seem to value life more today and we have taken steps to look out for and prevent all kinds of accidents

Violence - Murders, rapes, and violence are less common. It is very unlikely that you will die in a terror-attack.

Political systems - Contrary to what you might think if you watch the news, democracy is on the rise and has been for a long time. The anti-enlightenment populism (ex Trump) is a concern however, it is an old-people movement and will likely dissipate

Quality of life - More people today find their life exciting and meaningful than before. We have more spare-time and we don’t have to work until we die

Happiness - People are happier today and happiness comes with progress in the other variables described here.

Existential threats - The hole in the ozone is gone, forests are growing, no nukes have been launched (despite what doomsayers of yesterday would have you believe).


To sum up the first part of the book: Things have gotten better. Much better. Still, don’t think that Pinker believes that all problems are gone. He reiterates the point that the laundry does not wash itself - and global challenges don’t solve themselves. Despite the progress we have seen there are ample challenges left. There are still wars, famines, genocides, and environmental issues. Pinker acknowledges this, however, he emphasizes that the world has seen progress, not regress. And it is important to acknowledge that things have gotten better - not to pad ourselves on the shoulder - but rather so that we can analyze what it is that has worked so that we can keep doing that.

Is it the enlightenment ideas that have caused the undeniable progress in the world? This is the question addressed in the second part of the book. Since progress occurred in the world before the enlightened philosophers took the stage I would say only partly. Then again there were people acting in the spirit of the enlightenment even before Hume, Voltaire and the rest. And it feels safe to say that progress is not achieved through irrationality, populism, and closed-mindedness. To me as a scientist, this seems like a relatively trivial point, but I get reminded that it isn’t a view shared by the rest of the world every time I turn on the TV or radio.

The objections to this book are predictable (see other reviews). People are accusing Pinker of being a politically motivated naive optimist. If you think so then I can only advice you to read the book (and finish it), and then make up your own mind. Unlike most of those who criticise him, Pinker provides data to back his claims. I can only assume that it is Pinker’s critics, not Pinker himself, who are politically motivated “progressophobics” who, upon hearing a couple of anecdotes or reading about the war in Syria, throws all data out the window and claim that things are getting worse and that anyone who says otherwise is a naive optimist, right-wing fundamentalist or climate change denier.

This book is another masterpiece from one of the best non-fiction writers, and on my rating scale it no doubt deserves the top rating. However, I still think that Better Angels, with its more narrow focus, is probably a better book. To some extent, this book is a follow up to Better Angels, even though this book has a broader scope. Since Better Angels was published many people seem to think that things have turned around and that the world is now regressing. If you read this book you will learn that this is not the case. The progress until 2011 when Better Angels were published has continued and is expected to continue into the future as well.

So, to sum up, read this book if you want an antidote to all the doomsayers that dominate the media. Read this book if you want to revive the optimist in you. Evidently, we can make the world a better place - as we have done in the past.

80 of 91 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Too quiet?

This is an okay read/listen, but it’s one of the least audible Audible books I have encountered. I suppose it’s possible my hearing isn’t what it used to be, but so far I haven’t noticed other readings being quite so muted. Please leave the volume-lowering to the listener and crank that mutha up! Thanks!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • PD
  • OKEMOS, MI, United States
  • 02-14-18

Every Bit As good as Better Angels of Our Nature

I am not through this book yet, but 4 hour into the book today (2-13-2018) this book is every bit as good as Better Angels, which is my favorite non-fiction out of hundreds I have listened to on Audible. Authur Murray is the perfect narrator for this book as he was for Better Angels. This book will make you feel better about our world with solid facts provided to lay a foundation for this optimism.

51 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A must read for our age

Bill Gates may have cited it a his new favorite book, but this is not the reason why you should read it ;-)...Besides, his promotion was certainly counterproductive to entice those people who, alas, would most need to read this book : the flat-earthers, the conspiracy theorists, the misinformed,scapegoat-seeking, angry, resentful, or bigoted masses who vote for populist politicians peddling anti-science propaganda to promote their ideological agendas.
Pinker is best positioned among world-renowned intellectuals to update against all current challenges and repudiations the great tradition of european englightenment, which is not , as some would have it, a euro-centric quirk, but the only sound, time-proven and universal basis for an open liberal society.
Many self-help/positive thinking books advise people to "count their blessings" every day, but this book should be the ultimate blessing-provider : remind every day that you live in a time where the risks of suffering or dying a violent death are lower than they have ever been, thanks, ultimately, to science and reason. And it should make deservedly proud all those who have contributed, through the patient incremental collective efforts of science and engineering, to this secular achievement.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Maybe a good book but not a good audiobook

Difficult to follow graphs and data in an audiobook. Narration is also a bit too monotone.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The case for reason made well with caveats

This book follows pleasantly on “The Better Angels of Out Nature” in its positive outlook of the enlightenment and the development of modern society through reason and science.

As always Steven Pinker is an engaging writer and one can’t but admire the style and confidence of his narrative, which he supports with figures and facts.

It is outside of his field of Cognitive Psychology, Neuroscience, and linguistics, and in some cases his lack of in depth knowledge in other fields such as technology can be detected. Also as expected their is a slight bias to his narrative but all within reason, excuse the pun.

Generally it is a more realistic and positive outlook into a future that too many are presenting as dystopian. While there are dangers of the accelerating advancements made, which the author sometimes eludes to, all in all, a book worth reading as with all of his books.

Recommended to those who are Steven Pinker fans, as he does not disappoint, as well as the many that watch too much bad on news on TV.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Legitimately Optimistic but Sometimes Biased

I'm a big Pinker fan. He's a brilliant speaker, writer, and is fantastic at being able to disseminate erudite concepts to the common man. He has well-earned his reputation. He can be persuasive, witty and reassuring when we feel we are doomed as a society. He gives statistics that are irrefutable and makes a wonderful case for the fact that we are evolving, not devolving, as a society/nation/world.

However, his last 3 chapters or so are very disheartening. I am hardly a fan of Donald Trump. However, Pinker's hatred of Trump spews forth in many venomous diatribes against him. I agree with him as to why Trump is what he is, and why he has accumulated a mass of followers. But Pinker's obvious bias is a problem. It will alienate some of the people who need to hear his message the most. For that, I must downgrade an otherwise sterling book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Victor
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 06-25-18

important, but not much new

could have been 1/3 as long and as good. verl long winded, but if you haven't been reading in this area of the human condition, very good

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

feels like review paper about human progress

There is lot of data produced to feel comfortable (and to be sure) that world is getting better, safer and future holds a lot of promise. But it says nothing how it was achieved, what were the reasons some breakthroughs were possible and why it took so long for others, also no talk about why apparently things look bad everyday around (as perception portrayed by news etc). No clue on what can be done to have these good things happen more and more. So overall I felt like I'm listening to data compilation on human progress.
This book has high rating and many recommend it, so maybe i misjudged and my analysis is wrong... best would be if you find out yourself :) .

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Does not read up to the hype

The middle chapters are interesting. The outer chapters mostly lecture the listener. The enlightenment historical citations are cherry picked to align with the author's beliefs.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful