Author: Steven Pinker
The historical trajectory of violence
topics: cultural evolution
The historical trajectory of violence affects not only how life is lived but how it is understood. What could be more fundamental to our sense of meaning and purpose than a conception of whether the strivings of the human race over long stretches of time have left us better or worse off? How, in particular, are we to make sense of modernity – of the erosion of family, tribe, tradition, and religion by the forces of individualism, cosmopolitanism, reason and science? So much depends on how we understand the legacy of this transition: whether we see our world as a nightmare of crime, terrorism, genocide, and war, or as a period that, by the standards of history, is blessed by unprecedented levels of peaceful coexistence.
From the book The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined