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Download The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Unabridged) Audiobook, by Steven Pinker
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (3,047 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Steven Pinker Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2011 ISBN:
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In an age when we are all aware of the violence taking place in various parts of the world, Steven Pinker points out that, contrary to what we may think, violence has actually declined with the advent of modernity. In The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, he gives us many examples of how human beings have become more peaceful with the passage of time and theorizes as to why this may be so.

Pinker points out that, among prehistoric humans, the rate of death by violence was 15%, but, since people started living in state societies, it has fallen drastically. In the modern world, the rate of violent deaths has not exceeded 3% of the population. He uses statistics to show that this decline in violent deaths is not only applicable to war but also to murder. Even in peaceful tribal communities like the Kung of the Kalahari Desert, the rate of death via murder is much higher than it is in state societies.

So the development of a state society in which people have a government and a judiciary system leads to a decline in violence. In such a society, people are less inclined to take matters into their own hands and mete out vigilante justice. He points out that violent deaths are more common in the South because Southern culture has a system of honor in which individual retaliation is more acceptable than it is in the North. So the societal norms of a group of people influence the extent to which they accept the state's authority and this influences how violent or peaceful they tend to be.

Pinker is influenced a great deal by the thinker Thomas Hobbes whom he believes to be underrated. As Hobbes points out, without society, life would be "nasty, brutish and short." Pinker also believes that, besides the development of the state society and economic improvement, the human capacity for reason is what has led us to obeying "the better angels of our nature" (a quote taken from Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address). This is why the Age of Enlightenment, which emphasized reason over emotion, led to an increase in our awareness of human atrocities and a resultant decrease in violence.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined is a positive look at humanity in the present day, but it is also much more than that. It's an examination of how exactly we got to this point and what we can do to keep moving towards progress. Pinker makes a sophisticated study of human nature, taking into account reason, emotions, history and culture.

Steven Pinker was born in Montréal, Québec, Canada and graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor's in Psychology. He then attended Harvard University where he got his doctorate in Experimental Psychology. He has taught at MIT, Stanford and Harvard and written several books, some for an academic audience and some for a general audience. He was engaged in a well-publicized debate with Malcolm Gladwell and has received numerous awards, including the George Miller Prize from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and the Henry Dale Prize from the Royal Institution of Great Britain. He is currently married to novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein.

We've all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, What is the world coming to? But we seldom ask, How bad was the world in the past? In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species' existence.

Evidence of a bloody history has always been around us: the genocides in the Old Testament and crucifixions in the New; the gory mutilations in Shakespeare and Grimm; the British monarchs who beheaded their relatives and the American founders who dueled with their rivals; the nonchalant treatment in popular culture of wife-beating, child abuse, and the extermination of native peoples. Now the decline in these brutal practices can be quantified.

With the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps, Pinker presents some astonishing numbers. Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then suddenly were targeted for abolition. Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the numbers they did a few decades ago. Rape, battering, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse, cruelty to animals - all substantially down.How could this have happened, if human nature has not changed? What led people to stop sacrificing children, stabbing each other at the dinner table, or burning cats and disemboweling criminals as forms of popular entertainment? Was it reading novels, cultivating table manners, fearing the police, or turning their energies to making money? Should the nuclear bomb get the Nobel Peace Prize for preventing World War III? Does rock and roll deserve the blame for the doubling o... Download and start listening now!


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Theo Logos | 2/18/2014

    " This is a book of fascinating ideas argued convincingly. Unfortunately, it is also a book that is about twice as long as it should be. I started each chapter fascinated by the ideas, often bogged down by mid chapter, and sometimes needed to skim through to chapter's end. I felt that much of the material could have been included in an appendix that could be referenced without breaking the narrative flow of the book, and that much more could have been trimmed altogether without harm. Frankly, I believe the book could have been twice as powerful if half as long. Five stars for ideas and content, one for editing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel Lamb | 2/15/2014

    " A well written and persuasive pick me up. Also provides for a great opportunity for one to self indulge at the thought of their own place of advanced peacefulness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brenda B | 2/10/2014

    " Pinker's book defies all the media images that have become ingrained in our heads; war, murder, and sadism in general. It is only because we are in the microscope of the present that our world looks so horrific, according to Pinker. A great read, which will turn your thinking on its side. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 2/9/2014

    " With so many examples and data, Pinker successfully challenges what seems to be common wisdom - that we're becoming more violent. Then he digs into the possible causes of this remarkable decline in violence (especially in the 20th century) - societal & biological. Fascinating read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Karol | 1/22/2014

    " Excellent book. Very engaging material. Gives hope for the future. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Val | 1/20/2014

    " Not exactly about language, but more about its impact on human behavior. A must read for anyone living in the 21st century. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marion Husband | 1/13/2014

    " Very long, very interesting; there seems to be hope for the world, his arguments certainly convinced me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Simon | 9/25/2013

    " Check it out - 802 pages. That's what I'm talking about! Eight hundred and two of those bad boys. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel Brown | 7/30/2013

    " Still reading this, but absolutely FASCINATING material so far! Also very easy to digest and understand. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tim Nats | 7/25/2013

    " awesome, well detailed book and a great history lesson "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Graham Killian | 6/30/2013

    " best book i've read in a LONG time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Arthur | 1/20/2013

    " Wow. Give this book a read if you want to feel better about the world. Most things make me feel really pessimistic these days (like environment, economy, oil etc) but at least I can take violence off the list. Thanks, Pinker. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 1/20/2013

    " Too long, couldn't finish it but very interesting and thought provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Max Wilson | 12/20/2012

    " An almost amazing empirical arguement for why civilization is actually LESS violent today then in the past, even the recent (much idealzed) past. A very interesting counter arguement to whar the 24hour news-cycle that would have us believe. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Oser | 11/19/2012

    " An outstanding work of science and philosophy. A must-read for the 21st century. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gareth | 9/21/2012

    " Very interesting book showing how humanity as a whole is getting less violent over time "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 L Eaton | 3/9/2012

    " If you must read one GINORMOUS book this yet--this should be it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Toby | 11/1/2011

    " Pinker just edged out Slash for my top 5 people i'd like to share a beer with after this awesome book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve | 10/7/2011

    " A masterpiece of reasoned analysis. Brilliant. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 10/6/2011

    " Many many reviews and interviews in the media, so no need for a long one here, suffice to say that it was thoroughly engrossing apart from the last 2 chapters, and a real paradigm shifter. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Neven | 10/3/2011

    " The feelgood book of the year. "

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About the Author
Author Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker, a New York Times bestselling author,is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize finalist and has won many awards for his research, teaching, and books. Hhe has been named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and Foreign Policy’s 100 Global Thinkers.

About the Narrator

Arthur Morey has won three AudioFile Magazine “Best Of” Awards, and his work has garnered numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards and placed him as a finalist for the Audie Award. He has acted in a number of productions, both Off-Broadway in New York and Off-Loop in Chicago. He graduated from Harvard and did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He has won awards for his fiction and drama, worked as an editor with several book publishers, and taught literature and writing at Northwestern University. His plays and songs have been produced in New York, Chicago, and Milan, where he has also performed.