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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Prospect’s books of the year 2018: ideas | Arts & Books - Prospect

Books to help us understand our world, says Prospect Team.

Photo: Portrait of Nietzsche
Are things getting better or worse? Contrary to what the news tells us, actually we’ve never had it so good. That’s the argument of cognitive scientist Steven Pinker in Enlightenment Now (Allen Lane), which offers a profusion of graphs that show positive trends in life expectancy, crime, poverty and the spread of democracy. 

Pinker’s manifesto for optimism is exactly what we need right now, reminding us of how far we have come and how far we can still go. His book rails against the gloomy anti-Enlightenment arguments that were inaugurated by Friedrich Nietzsche. Sue Prideaux’s sympathetic biography I am Dynamite! (Faber) shows how the German philosopher denounced reason and urged us to embrace Dionysian desires. In person, though, he was soft-spoken and impeccably groomed—more like the Victorian gent he strove not to be.
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Source: Prospect