What is your question?
Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He grew up in Montreal and earned his BA from McGill and his Ph.D. from Harvard. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his nine books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications.
His tenth and most recent book is 05 February, 2009 Question: What question should we be asking ourselves? "How did we get here?"
Pinker: I think the kind of question to . . . that would be good to ask is, “What’s good about our condition – not just what’s bad about it – and how did we get here? How do we get to enjoy it?” Not just what went wrong, which is very easy to ask; but also what went right? Also, the other question I would want people to ask is, “What really is our current state of affairs? How bad are things compared to other times and places? How polluted is our environment compared to the way it was 100 years ago? How much war and peace is there compared to what there was at other times? How much murder, and rape and homicide?” Get an objective picture of our current state of affairs so as to have a rational basis for asking what went right in the things that we do value. How can we bottle it, and purify it and concentrate it so that we can enjoy more of whatever that is in the future.
Question: What question should we be asking ourselves?
"How did we get here?"
We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.
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