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Not Helpful 2 Helpful Does everyone become enlightened? Even if I become Buddhist could I still not become enlightened? Not Helpful 8 Helpful Do I have to give up all your desires to become enlightened, including things I love? Depending on who you ask, 'following your bliss' is a great pathway to awakening your consciousness.

Trust yourself and learn from those around you. For instance, some may say a more aesthetic path of seeking truth or nirvana is most effective. Nevertheless, your best path depends on what you, personally, find to be helpful in your own physical, mental and spiritual journey. Not Helpful 4 Helpful Stella H Howell. Understand your inner self. Learn how to purify yourself. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other.

Nothing in life is permanent, so try not to get attached to people, things, or ideas. The world is constantly changing and evolving. Focus on the path, not the destination. Edit Related wikiHows. Article Info This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Did this article help you? Cookies make wikiHow better. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our cookie policy. Co-Authored By:. Co-authors: Updated: March 28, DC Dixie Conley Aug 19, It was clearly written by someone who knew what they were talking about with the intention of helping others. I would like to have seen a link to the article on integrating the unconscious functions of the body as I couldn't find one myself.

LC Louise Courtemanche Mar 26, I enjoyed learning about taking pleasure in all activities. I'm looking for opportunity to serve. I'm grateful for this wonderful teaching. Thank you. Rated this article:. PS Padmanaban Sundhareshwaran Apr 27, The methods or steps you have listed are not hard, but with self-discipline are easy to follow. I will practice and will share my experience. Before I thought that there was no such thing as enlightenment, but after reading this I think I might as well try it! Hopefully I become enlightened!

Wish me luck. ST Sonam Tsering Oct 14, It makes it look easy but I did not find it so. Ultimate compassion for others is the most important route. Banish all negative thoughts from mind. SK Shima Kuriakose Jan 25, I feel optimistic after reading the article. I think even reading this article improves my enlightenment and positive energy.

P Pauly Apr 4, MM Monika Mast May 18, Needed to be more aware and deep. But I am just a beginner, reading your information helped. BJ Bhaskar Jogi Aug 17, The result could come through practice. These articles are very interesting to my mindset.

The critical optimist - spiked

AS Amit Sharma Sep 3, Might be helpful to the guys searching for ways to meditation. JH Jay Hendrix Jun 21, It took me 45 years to become fearless and realize true freedom. SG Shalini Goyal Aug 30, DM Diego Martinez May 24, Pinker, a cognitive psychologist and linguist by training, and a public intellectual by inclination, has mounted a defence of what he identifies as the key Enlightenment principles of reason, science and humanism — and he has done so on practical and evidential as much as philosophical ground.

They are important, he argues, because they have worked to our collective betterment. Thanks to our adherence to ideas first formulated during the Enlightenment, our lives over the past years have improved by every conceivable measure — we are wealthier, healthier; we are more equal, more knowledgeable; we enjoy greater peace, greater security.

We are therefore in the midst of and enjoying clear, quantifiable progress.

"Enlightenment Now": Steven Pinker's grand apology for capitalism

To those loyal to reason, humanism and indeed liberalism Enlightenment Now reads like a vindication. To adherents of environmentalism and identity-obsessed particularism, it reads like a reprimand. Look beyond the polemics, however, and you will find Enlightenment Now to be an edifying, quietly impassioned book. And, while it contains an element of uplift, its impetus is principally critical — critical of the resurgent counter-Enlightenment, of those who would sacrifice the pursuit of truth at the altar of politics, of the anti-science sentiments now gaining ground.

To discuss some of these elements of Enlightenment Now , we spoke to the man himself. But given the note of alarm you strike about the abandonment of Enlightenment principles, are you guilty of something similar? Are you overstating the animus towards Enlightenment principles? Pinker: The reaction to the book would tend to suggest otherwise. The value of reason and science and humanism is by no means trite, or banal.

There are factions, including many in academia, who are dead set against them. In fact that itself would contradict the value of reason and disinterested inquiry, because no group of guys could figure it all out. They were human, they were the products of their time. As I mention in Enlightenment Now , several of them were slave holders, some others were racist, some anti-semitic and some sexist.

And all ideas have to come from somewhere — there has to be someone who first articulated ideas in a way that continues to stick. So I chose the Enlightenment as a rubric for this family of ideas.


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For example, you write of democratic progress, of the increase in democracy across the world over the past two centuries. But was, say, the political progress in 19th-century England, of the struggle for male suffrage on the part of the Chartists, and then, in the early 20th century, of the struggle for female and therefore universal suffrage on the part of the Suffragettes — was that democratic progress really best understood in terms of the power of Enlightenment ideas?

Are there not other factors in play here? The struggle for certain material and political objectives and so on. Mary Astell, a 17th-century writer who may perhaps be called the first feminist, was precocious in that she wrote before the era we traditionally label the Enlightenment.

But she was echoing the arguments made against slavery, namely that there is no evidence one class of people is inherently inferior to another, nor does any human have the right to exert arbitrary power over another. This is not a book of intellectual history. I do think there was a concentration of these ideas — not least because the Enlightenment thinkers influenced each other. Some of the ideas developed earlier, some later. And also, speaking perhaps directly to your question, there are certain types of progress that perhaps should not be attributed directly to Enlightenment ideas.

The decline, for example, of personal violence, starting in the late Middle Ages, which the German sociologist Norbert Elias attributed to a civilising process that was instigated when central states imposed the rule of law over the medieval patchwork of anarchic feasts. That itself was a kind of progress that did not depend on Enlightenment ideas. Likewise there may be certain benefits to human flourishing that come about from the sheer rise of prosperity, itself a product of the industrial revolution, which was influenced by the growth of science.

But there were many benefits that may come about simply from a society becoming richer, regardless of its ideas. Pinker: Well, I would assimilate autonomy in part to reason, namely that the ability to know, and not to accept authority is itself a result of reason. So the autonomy of thinking, of arguing, of free speech, is an implication of reason. And the autonomy of the individual, who is to be free of arbitrary power, I would assimilate to humanism.

That for humans to flourish, they should not be subject to the arbitrary power of others. One can partition the different values in different ways, draw the lines between different ideas in different ways. Enlightenment ideals, thus unchampioned, fade into the background as a bland default, and become a catch basin for every unsolved societal problem of which there will always be many. Illiberal ideas like authoritarianism, tribalism, and magical thinking easily get the blood pumping, and have no shortage of champions. What follows are arguments directed at people who care about arguments.

These arguments can matter, because practical men and women and madmen in authority are affected, directly or indirectly, by the world of ideas. Opposing reason is, by definition, unreasonable. Life is not a dream in which disconnected experiences appear in bewildering succession. And the application of reason to the world validates itself by granting us the ability to bend the world to our will, from curing infections to sending a man to the moon.

We are a cognitive species that depends on explanations of the world. But reality is a mighty selection pressure, so a species that lives by ideas must have evolved with an ability to prefer correct ones. The challenge for us today is to design an informational environment in which that ability to prevails over the ones that lead us into folly. The first step is to pinpoint why an otherwise intelligent species is so easily led into folly. Professing a belief in evolution is not a gift of scientific literacy, but an affirmation of loyalty to a liberal secular subculture as opposed to a conservative religious one.

In a revolutionary analysis of reason in the public sphere, the legal scholar Dan Kahan has argued that certain beliefs become symbols of cultural allegiance. A white lie is told for the benefit of the hearer; a blue lie is told for the benefit of an in-group originally, fellow police officers. While some of the conspiracy theorists may be genuinely misinformed, most express these beliefs for the purpose of performance rather than truth: they are trying to antagonize liberals and display solidarity with their blood brothers.

Another paradox of rationality is that expertise, brainpower, and conscious reasoning do not, by themselves, guarantee that thinkers will approach the truth. On the contrary, they can be weapons for every-more-ingenious rationalization. So convenient a thing is it to be a rational creature, since it enables us to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to.

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We know today that political partisanship is like sports fandom: testosterone levels rise or fall on election night just as they do on Super Bowl Sunday. They appear about equally stupid when faced with proper challenges to their position. The facts of human progress strike me as having been as unkind to right-wing libertarianism as to right-wing conservatism and left-wing Marxism. As we saw, no developed country runs on right-wing libertarian principles, nor has any realistic vision of such a country ever been laid out.

The empirical picture at present suggests that people flourish most in liberal democracies with a mixture of civic norms, guaranteed rights, market freedom, social spending, and judicious regulation. And they have strong opinions on chance and contingency in human history as opposed to necessity and fate.

What does it mean that the monkish tweaking of probabilities is a more reliable guide to the world than the pronouncements of erudite sages and narratives inspired by systems of ideas? When the audience of looks back on the audience of , their level of contempt for how we go about judging political debate will be roughly comparable to the level of contempt we have for the Salem witch trials.

The liberal tilt of academia and of journalism, commentary, and intellectual life is in some ways natural. A liberal tilt is also, in moderation, desirable. Intellectual liberalism was at the forefront of many forms of progress that almost everyone has come to accept, such as democracy, social insurance, religious tolerance, the abolition of slavery and judicial torture, the decline of war, and the expansion of human and civil rights. In many ways we are almost all liberals now. A challenge of our era is how to foster an intellectual and political culture that is driven by reason rather than tribalism and mutual reaction.

Humans may be vulnerable to bias and error, but clearly not all of us all the time, or no one would ever be entitled to say that humans are vulnerable to bias and error. Mendacity, truth-shading, conspiracy theories, extraordinary popular delusions, and the madness of crowds are as old as our species, but so is the conviction that some ideas are right and others are wrong.

The same decade that has seen the rise of pants-on-fire Trump and his reality-challenged followers has also seen the rise of a new ethic of fact-checking. Over the long run, the institutions of reason can mitigate the Tragedy of the Belief Commons and allow the truth to prevail. What can be done to improve standards of reasoning? Persuasion by facts and logic, the most direct strategy, is not always futile.

Experiments have shown that the right rules can avert the Tragedy of the Belief Commons and force people to dissociate their reasoning from their identities. One technique was discovered long ago by rabbis: they forced yeshiva students to switch sides in a Talmudic debate and argue the opposite position. Another is to have people try to reach a consensus in a small discussion group; this forces them to defend their opinions to their group mates, and the truth usually wins. Scientists themselves have hit upon a new strategy called adversarial collaboration, in which mortal enemies work together to get to the bottom of an issue, setting up empirical tests that they agree beforehand will settle it.

Even the mere requirement to explicate an opinion can shake people out off their overconfidence. Contrary to common bleak assessments of human reasoning abilities, people are quite capable of reasoning in an unbiased manner, at least when they are evaluating arguments rather than producing them, and when they are after the truth rather than trying to win a debate. There is, of course, a flaming exception: electoral politics and the issues that have clung to it.

Here the rules of the game are fiendishly designed to bring out the most irrational in people. To make public discourse more rational, issues should be depoliticized as much as is feasible.

Free Thought Lives

Also, the factual state of affairs should be unbundled from remedies that are freighted with symbolic political meaning. For their part, the media could examine their role in turning politics into a sport, and intellectuals and pundits could think twice about competing. However long it takes, we must not let the existence of cognitive and emotional biases or the spasms of irrationality in the political arena discourage us from the Enlightenment ideal of relentlessly pursuing reason and truth.

If we can identify ways in which humans are irrational, we must know what rationality is. The threat to our humanity today comes not from the transmigration of souls in the next life, but from the denial of soul in this one… — Leon Kass. Science cannot be blamed for genocide and war, and does not threaten the moral and spiritual health of our nation. On the contrary, science is indispensable in all areas of human concern, including politics, the arts, and the search for meaning, purpose, and morality.

The culture of science is based on the opposite belief. Its signature practices, including open debate, peer review, and double-blind methods, are designed to circumvent the sins to which scientists, being human, are vulnerable. For the same reason, a call for everyone to think more scientifically must not be confused with a call to hand decision-making over to scientists. The life-blood of science is the cycle of conjecture and refutation: proposing a hypothesis and then seeing whether it survives attempts to falsify it.

In fact, to ex- plain a complex happening in terms of deeper principles is not to discard its richness. The second idea is that we must allow the world to tell us whether our ideas about it are correct.


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In other words, the worldview that guides the moral and spiritual values of a knowledgeable person today is the worldview given to us by science. Though the scientific facts do not by themselves dictate values, they certainly hem in the possibilities. By stripping ecclesiastical authority of its credibility on factual matters, they cast doubt on its claims to certitude in matters of morality. One of the greatest potential contributions of modern science may be a deeper integration with its academic partner, the humanities. An inquisitive spirit might also be curious about the recurring ways in which minds separated by culture and era deal with the timeless conundrums of human existence.

Science, the partisan of no country, but the beneficent patroness of all, has liberally opened a temple where all may meet. Her influence on the mind, like the sun on the chilled earth, has long been preparing it for higher cultivation and further improvement. The philosopher of one country sees not an enemy in the philosophy of another: he takes his seat in the temple of science, and asks not who sits beside him. What he wrote about the physical landscape applies as well to the landscape of knowledge.

In this and other ways, the spirit of science is the spirit of the Enlightenment. Science is not enough to bring about progress. The goal of maximizing human flourishing—life, health, happiness, freedom, knowledge, love, richness of experience—may be called humanism. It distinguishes true progress from mere mastery. Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies.

We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence. Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Greater Happiness for a Greater Number: Did the Promise of Enlightenment Come True?

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty. Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.

Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all. Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community.

Though humanism does not invoke gods, spirits, or souls to ground meaning and morality, it is by no means incompatible with religious institutions. Humanism may seem bland an unexceptional—who could be against human flourishing? As we shall see, it is vehemently opposed not just by many religious and political factions but, amazingly, by eminent artists, academics, and intellectuals. But it captures a key intuition. This opens the door to deepening our humanistic justification of morality with two key ideas from science, entropy and evolution.

Traditional analyses of the social contract imagined a colloquy among disembodied souls. Much follows. These incarnate beings must have defied the staggering odds against matter arranging itself into a thinking organ by being products of natural selection, the only physical process capable of producing complex adaptive design. Much of what we call wisdom consists in balancing the conflicting desires within ourselves, and much of what we call morality and politics consists in balancing the conflicting desires among people.

Many things must all go right for a body and thus a mind to function, but it takes just one thing going wrong for it to shut down permanently… Evolution helps explain another foundation of secular morality: our capacity for sympathy or, as the Enlightenment writers variously refereed to it, benevolence, pity, imagination, or commiseration.

A viable moral philosophy for a cosmopolitan world cannot be constructed from layers of intricate argumentation or rest on deep metaphysical or religious convictions. It must draw on simple, transparent principles that everyone can understand and agree upon. History confirms that when diverse cultures have to find common ground, they converge toward humanism.

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,. Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,. Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,.

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,. Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,. Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,.

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

The idea that morality consists in the maximization of human flourishing clashes with two perennially seductive alternatives. The first is theistic morality: the idea that morality consists in obeying the dictates of a deity, which are enforced by supernatural reward and punishment in this world or in an afterlife.

The second is romantic heroes: the idea that morality consists in the purity, authenticity, and greatness of an individual or a nation. Humanism may not be wrong, they say, but it goes against human nature. No society based on humanistic principles can long endure, let alone a global order based on them. What does an appeal to a supernatural lawgiver add to a humanistic commitment to make people better off? The most obvious add-on is supernatural enforcement: the belief that if one commits a sin, one will be smitten by God, damned to hell, or inscribed on the wrong page of the Book of Life.

But theistic morality has two fatal flaws. The first is that there is no good reason to believe that God exists. Our judgment therefore comes down to which we find more wasteful and inelegant: many worlds or many words. Our best science tells us that consciousness consists of a global workspace representing our current goals, memories, and surroundings, implemented in synchronized neural firing in fronts-parietal circuitry. Whatever we make of the hard problem of consciousness, positing an immaterial soul is of no help at all.

And that brings us to the second problem with theistic morality. Defenders of theism retort that irreligious wars and atrocities, motivated by the secular ideology of communism and by ordinary conquest, have killed even more people. Talk about relativism! It is peculiar to grade religion on this curve: if religion were a source of morality, the number of religious wars and atrocities ought to be zero. An ironic inspiration for faitheism is research on the psychological origins of supernatural belief, including the cognitive habits of over-attributing design and agency to natural phenomena, and emotional feelings of solidarity within communities of faith.

But this interpretation is dubious. Not every feature of human nature is a homeostatic drive that must be regularly slaked. That implies that religions should not be condemned or praised across the board but considered according to the logic of Euthyphro. If there are justifiable reasons behind particular activities, those activities should be encouraged, but the movements should not be given a pass just because they are religious. Among the positive contributions of religions at particular times and places are education, charity, medical care, counseling, conflict resolution, and other social services though in the developed world these efforts are dwarfed by their secular counterparts; no religion could have decimated hunger, disease, illiteracy, war, homicide, or poverty on the scales we saw in part II.

Just as religious institutions deserve praise when they pursue humanistic ends, they should not be shielded from criticism when they obstruct those ends. If the factual tenets of religion can no longer be taken seriously, and its ethical tenets depend entirely on whether they can be justified by secular morality, what about its claims to wisdom on the great questions of existence?

A favorite tasing point of fait heists is that only religion can speak to the deepest yearnings of the human heart. Science will never be adequate to address the great existential questions of life, death, love, loneliness, loss, honor, cosmic justice, and metaphysical hope. But today it is dominated by secular content, including debates on ethics originating in Greek and Enlightenment philosophy, and renderings of love, loss, and loneliness in the works of Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, the 19th-century novelists, and other great artists and essayists.

As we have seen, any conception of life and death that depends on the existence of an immaterial soul is factually dubious and morally dangerous. The claim that people should seek deeper meaning in supernatural beliefs has little to recommend it. Arguments aside, is the need to believe pushing back against secular humanism?

Believers, fait heists, and presenters of science and progress are gloating about an apparent return of religion all over the world. According to an old idea in social science called the Secularization Thesis , irreligion is a natural consequence of affluence and education.

Why is the world losing its religion? There are several reasons. The Communist governments of the 20th century outlawed or discouraged religion, and when they liberalized, their citizenries were slow to reacquire the taste. Bu the most obvious reason may be reason itself: when people become more intellectually curious and scientifically literate, they stop believing in miracles.

Cause and effect probably run in many directions. Correlation is not causation, but i you combine the fact that much of Islamic doctrine is anti humanistic with the fact that many Muslims believe that Islamic doctrine is inerrant—and throw in the fact that the Muslims who carry out illiberal policies and violent acts say they are doing it because they are following those doctrines—then it becomes a stretch to say that the inhumane practices have nothing to do with religious devotion and that the real cause is oil, colonialism, Islamophobia, Orientalism, or Zionism.

Calling out the anithumanistic features of contemporary Islamic belief is in no way Islamophobic or civilization-clashing. Can the Islamic world have an Enlightenment? The reactionary ideology is theoconservatism. The obvious source of these standards is traditional Christianity. Lilla points out an irony in theoconservativism. While it has been inflamed by radical Islamism which the theocons think will soon start World War III , the movements are similar in their reactionary mindset, with its horror of modernity and progress. Both believe that at some time in the past there was a happy, well-ordered state where a virtuous people knew their place.

Then alien secular forces subverted this harmony and brought on decadence and degeneration. Only a heroic vanguard with memories of the old ways can restore the society to its golden age. First, the claim that humans have an innate imperative to identify with a nation-state with the implication that cosmopolitanism goes abasing human nature is bad evolutionary psychology. Like the supposed innate imperative to belong to a religion, it confuses a vulnerability with a need. The claim that ethnic uniformity leads to cultural excellence is as wrong as an idea can be.

Between and the world tried an international order based on nation-states heroically struggling for greatness. Still, the appeal of regressive ideas is perennial, and the case for reason, science, humanism, and progress always has to be made. Remember your math: an anecdote is not a trend. Keep some perspective. Finally, drop the Nietzsche. It is glorious. It is uplifiting. It is even, I daresay, spiritual. It goes something like this.

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We are born into a pitiless universe, facing steep odds against life-enabling order and in constant jeopardy of falling apart. We were shaped by a force that is ruthlessly competitive. We are made from crooked timber, vulnerable to illusions, self-centeredness, and at times astounding stupidity. Yet human nature has also been blessed with resources that open a space for a kind of redemption. We are endowed with the power to com- bine ideas recursively, to have thoughts about our thoughts.

We have an instinct for language, allowing us to share the fruits of our experience and ingenuity. We are depend with the capacity for sympathy—for pity, imagination, compassion, commiseration. These endowments have found ways to magnify their own power. The scope of language has been augmented by the written, printed, and electronic word.

Our circle of sympathy has been expanded by history, journalism, and the narrative arts. And our puny rational faculties have been multiplied by the norms and institutions of reason: intellectual curiosity, open debate, skepticism of authority and dogma, and the burden of proof to verify ideas by confronting them against reality.

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As the spiral of recursive improvement gathers momentum, we eke out victories against the forces that grind us down, not least the darker parts of our own nature. We penetrate the mysteries of the cosmos, including life and mind. We live longer, suffer less, learn more, get smarter, and enjoy more small pleasures and rich experiences.

Fewer of us are killed, assaulted, enslaved, oppressed, or exploited by the others. From a few oases, the territories with peace and prosperity are growing, and could someday encompass the globe. Much suffering remains, and tremendous peril. But ideas on how to reduce them have been voiced, and an infinite number of others are yet to be conceived.

We will never have a perfect world, and it would be dangerous to seek one. But there is no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing. This heroic story is not just another myth. Myths are fictions, but this one is true—true to the best of our knowledge, which is the only truth we can have. And the story belongs not to any tribe but to all of humanity—to any sentient creature with the power of reason and the urge to persist in its being.

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  4. RSS - Posts. Posted on September 22, 0. There are several reasons why. However… Like all history is selective, so is all counting. Commendation This is one of my favorite reads, but not for extolling reasons. These sound like similar ideas and ideals of many ancient civilizations, including but not limited to specifically Israel and Greece. Another way to understand this trend is that there are actually common human ideas and ideals that are simply evolving, taking new forms, having new expressions throughout human history.

    An obvious example is nationalism,… 31 Left-wing and right-wing political ideologies have themselves become secular religions,… 32 A final alternative…condemns its embrace of science. If they have increased over time, that is progress. Share this: Facebook Twitter Print Email. Like this: Like Loading Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.

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