The Transient Suppression of the Worst Devils of our Nature—a review of Steven Pinker’s ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined’(2012)

Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization -- Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 3rd Ed 686p(2017) (2017)
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This is not a perfect book, but it is unique, and if you skim the first 400 or so pages, the last 300 (of some 700) are a pretty good attempt to apply what's known about behavior to social changes in violence and manners over time. The basic topic is: how does our genetics control and limit social change? Surprisingly he fails to describe the nature of kin selection (inclusive fitness) which explains much of animal and human social life. He also (like nearly everyone) lacks a clear framework for describing the logical structure of rationality (LSR—John Searle’s preferred term) which I prefer to call the Descriptive Psychology of Higher Order Thought (DPHOT). He should have said something about the many other ways of abusing and exploiting people and the planet, since these are now so much more severe as to render other forms of violence irrelevant. Extending the concept of violence to include the global long term consequences of replication of someone’s genes, and having a grasp of the nature of how evolution works (i.e., kin selection) will provide a very different perspective on history, current events, and how things are likely to go in the next few hundred years. One might start by noting that the decrease in physical violence over history has been matched (and made possible) by the constantly increasing merciless rape of the planet (i.e., by people's destruction of their own descendants future). Pinker (like most people most of the time) is often distracted by the superficialities of culture when it’s biology that matters. See my recent reviews of Wilson’s ‘The Social Conquest of Earth’ and Nowak and Highfield’s ‘SuperCooperators’ for a brief summary of the vacuity of altruism and the operation of kin selection and the uselessness and superficiality of describing behavior in cultural terms. Those wishing a comprehensive up to date account of Wittgenstein, Searle and their analysis of behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my article The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language as Revealed in Wittgenstein and Searle (2016). Those interested in all my writings in their most recent versions may download from this site my e-book ‘Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization Michael Starks (2016)- Articles and Reviews 2006-2016’ by Michael Starks First Ed. 662p (2016). All of my papers and books have now been published in revised versions both in ebooks and in printed books. Talking Monkeys: Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017) The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle--Articles and Reviews 2006-2016 (2017) Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017)
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