The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined Quotes.

11. "The theory that religion is a force for peace, often heard among the religious right and its allies today, does not fit the facts of history."
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

12. "The universality of reason is a momentous realization, because it defines a place for morality. If I appeal to you do do something that affects me—to get off my foot, or not to stab me for the fun of it, or to save my child from drowning—then I can't do it in a way that privileges my interests of yours if I want you to take me seriously (say, by retaining my right to stand on your foot, or to stab you, or to let your children drown). I have to state my case in a way that would force me to treat you in kind. I can't act as if my interests are special just because I'm me and you're not, any more than I can persuade you that the spot I am standing on is a special place in the universe just because I happen to be standing on it. You and I ought to reach this moral understanding not just so we can have a logically consistent conversation but because mutual unselfishness is the only way we can simultaneously pursue our interests. You and I are both better off if we share our surpluses, rescue each other's children when they get into trouble, and refrain from knifing each other than we would be if we hoarded our surpluses while they rotted, let each other's children drown, and feuded incessantly. Granted, I might be a bit better off if I acted selfishly at your expense and you played the sucker, but the same is true for you with me, so if each of us tried for these advantages, we'd both end up worse off. Any neutral observer, and you and I if we could talk it over rationally, would have to conclude that the state we should aim for is the one where we both are unselfish. Morality, then, is not a set of arbitrary regulations dictated by a vengeful deity and written down in a book; nor is it the custom of a particular culture or tribe. It is a consequence of the interchangeability of perspectives and the opportunity the world provides for positive-sum games."
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

13. "I am sometimes asked, "How do you know there won't be a war tomorrow (or a genocide, or an act of terrorism) that will refute your whole thesis?" The question misses the point of this book. The point is not that we have entered an Age of Aquarius in which every last earthling has been pacified forever. It is that substantial reductions in violence have taken place, and it is important to understand them. Declines in violence are caused by political, economic, and ideological conditions that take hold in particular cultures at particular times. If the conditions reverse, violence could go right back up."
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

14. "In this way of thinking, the fact that women show a lot of skin or that men curse in public is not a sign of cultural decay. On the contrary, it's a sign that they live in a society that is so civilized that they don't have to fear being harassed or assaulted in response."
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

15. "It Begins with skepticism. The history of human folly, and our own susceptibility to illusions and fallacies, tell us that men and women are fallible."
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

16. "Perhaps the most extraordinary popular delusion about violence of the past quarter-century is that it is caused by low self-esteem. That theory has been endorsed by dozens of prominent experts, has inspired school programs designed to get kids to feel better about themselves, and in the late 1980s led the California legislature to form a Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem. Yet Baumeister has shown that the theory could not be more spectacularly, hilariously, achingly wrong. Violence is a problem not of too little self-esteem but of too much, particularly when it is unearned."
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

17. "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. —Voltaire"
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

18. "An ideology can provide a satisfying narrative that explains chaotic events and collective misfortunes in a way that flatters the virtue and competence of believers, while being vague or conspiratorial enough to withstand skeptical scrutiny."
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

19. "Since violence is largely a male pastime, cultures that empower women tend to move away from the glorification of violence and are less likely to breed dangerous subcultures of rootless young men."
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

20. "It’s a little-known fact that most terrorist groups fail, and that all of them die. Lest this seem hard to believe, just reflect on the world around you. Israel continues to exist, Northern Ireland is still a part of the United Kingdom, and Kashmir is a part of India. There are no sovereign states in Kurdistan, Palestine, Quebec, Puerto Rico, Chechnya, Corsica, Tamil Eelam, or Basque Country. The Philippines, Algeria, Egypt, and Uzbekistan are not Islamist theocracies; nor have Japan, the United States, Europe, and Latin America become religious, Marxist, anarchist, or new-age utopias. The numbers confirm the impressions."
- Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

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