非常好的书，Steven Pinker的The better angels of our nature: why violence has declined。刚刚在亚马逊订购这本书，等啃完了再看看有没有自己的感想。
- 1 Thesis
- 2 Outline of the book
- 3 Influences
- 4 Reception
- 5 Awards and honors
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- The Pacification Process – Pinker describes this as the transition from "the anarchy of hunting, gathering, and horticultural societies … to the first agricultural civilizations with cities and governments, beginning around five thousand years ago" which brought "a reduction in the chronic raiding and feuding that characterized life in a state of nature and a more or less fivefold decrease in rates of violent death."
- The Civilizing Process – Pinker argues that "between the late Middle Ages and the 20th century, European countries saw a tenfold-to-fiftyfold decline in their rates of homicide". Pinker attributes the idea of the Civilizing Process to the sociologist Norbert Elias, who "attributed this surprising decline to the consolidation of a patchwork of feudal territories into large kingdoms with centralized authority and an infrastructure on commerce".
- The Humanitarian Revolution – Pinker attributes this term and concept to the historian Lynn Hunt. He says this revolution "unfolded on the [shorter] scale of centuries and took off around the time of the Age of Reason and the European Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries" (though he points to historical antecedents and to "parallels elsewhere in the world"). He writes: "It saw the first organized movements to abolish slavery, dueling, judicial torture, superstitious killing, sadistic punishment, and cruelty to animals, together with the first stirrings of systematic pacifism."
- The Long Peace – a term he attributes to the historian John Lewis Gaddis. This fourth "major transition", Pinker says, "took place after the end of World War II"; in it, he says, "the great powers, and the developed states in general, have stopped waging war on one another".
- The New Peace – Pinker calls this trend "more tenuous", but "since the end of the Cold War in 1989, organized conflicts of all kinds — civil wars, genocides, repression by autocratic governments, and terrorist attacks — have declined throughout the world".
- The Rights Revolutions – The postwar period has seen, Pinker argues, "a growing revulsion against aggression on smaller scales, including violence against ethnic minorities, women, children, homosexuals, and animals. These spin-offs from the concept of human rights—civil rights, women's rights, children's rights, gay rights, and animal rights—were asserted in a cascade of movements from the late 1950s to the present day…".
Five Inner Demons:
Here Pinker rejects what he calls the "Hydraulic Theory of Violence" – the idea "that humans harbor an inner drive toward aggression (a death instinct or thirst for blood), which builds up inside us and must periodically be discharged. Nothing could be further from contemporary scientific understanding of the psychology of violence." Instead, he argues, research suggests that "aggression is not a single motive, let alone a mounting urge. It is the output of several psychological systems that differ in their environmental triggers, their internal, their neurological basis, and their social distribution." He examines five such systems:
- Predatory or Practical Violence – violence "deployed as a practical means to an end"
- Dominance – the "urge for authority, prestige, glory, and power"; Pinker argues that dominance motivations can occur within individuals and coalitions of "racial, ethnic, religious, or national groups"
- Revenge – the "moralistic urge toward retribution, punishment, and justice"
- Sadism – the "deliberate infliction of pain for no purpose but to enjoy a person's suffering..."
- Ideology – a "shared belief system, usually involving a vision of utopia, that justifies unlimited violence in pursuit of unlimited good …"
Four better angels (Chapter 9)
Pinker here examines four motives that "can orient [humans] away from violence and towards cooperation and altruism". He identifies:
- Empathy – which "prompts us to feel the pain of others and to align their interests with our own"
- Self-Control – which "allows us to anticipate the consequences of acting on our impulses and to inhibit them accordingly”
- The Moral Sense – which "sanctifies a set of norms and taboos that govern the interactions among people in a culture"; these sometimes decrease violence but can also increase it "when the norms are tribal, authoritarian, or puritanical"
- Reason – which "allows us to extract ourselves from our parochial vantage points"
In this chapter Pinker also examines and rejects the idea that humans have evolved in the biological sense to become less violent.