October 28, 2008

Seeing our predicament as a problem that can be solved

Question: What are you optimistic about, given the state of society at the moment?

Answer: That the processes of enlightenment and reason will continue to drive violence down. That some of the events that we have enjoyed in our lifetimes, that were almost unthinkable beforehand - the fall of the Soviet empire, the end of apartheid, the fact that the Cold War ended without the use of nuclear weapons; if you would have said any of these, the fact that Israel and Egypt are at peace, the fact that the homicide rate has plummeted since the 1990’s in the United States, if you would have made any of those predictions in 1975 or 1985 people would have said, “What are you smoking?” But they all came true. My hope is that an ability to see the future, to think about our predicament, to see our predicament as a problem that can be solved, will lead to more pleasant surprises like that.

~Steven Pinker, see interview here.

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