The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

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ex-l

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The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Post26 Jun 2012

Abridged from numerous sources.
In 'The Better Angels Of Our Nature' author and Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker predicts that meat-eating may be the final frontier in what he calls the "rights revolution" ... the extraordinary decline in human violence and cruelty seen in the past 300 years.

According to Pinker, human nature, while somewhat flexible, is, for the most part, fixed but rather than claiming that some violence and aggression is hard-wired into our minds, he proves that humanity has grown less bloodthirsty over the course of recorded history and how through historical shortsightedness, we have forgotten just how pervasive violence was in previous eras.

Pinker's evidence comes from anthropologists, historians, criminologists, and experts of many other kinds. It suggests that the percentage of the population killed in warfare or everyday mayhem has declined, from century to century. The number of executions has gone down, and routine public displays of viciousness, such as torture and lynching, have grown less socially acceptable.

He shows we also have the capacities of self-control and empathy which are reinforced when societies undergo what is called "the civilizing process" of establishing a central, rational authority.

This civilisation came not from religion but over the course of what is called "The Enlightenment" in Western history. Logic, science, rationalism. Slowly, painfully, but ultimately successfully torture was outlawed, slavery was abolished, democracy became established and people discovered that they could rely on the state to protect them.

As a real scientist, Pinker thinks that most of what we believe about violence is wrong. Contrary to what the BKs claim, the present day is less violent than it ever has been. Murder, genocide, war, torture, cruelty to animals: all are at the lowest level ever.

Pinker also argues that the violence of the 20th century is best understood as a series of random spasms rather than part of a trend. The two world wars were essentially freak events, driven by contingency and in some cases madness. They do not reflect the default condition of mankind. The evidence for this is the third part of Pinker's case: look at what has happened since 1945, as the world has become immeasurably more peaceful on almost every count.

Terrorism is down, not up. All sorts of disadvantaged groups; women, children, ethnic minorities, even animals are much less likely to be victims of violence across many parts of the world, and the trend is spreading.

dany

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Re: The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declin

Post26 Jun 2012

The writer looked at the world and evaluated it from a single aspect ... VIOLENCE.

Wish he used another scale for measuring other important issues in human lives :
    Happiness
    Contenment
    Ethics and morals
    Hope and despair
    Human relations
    Family and society ties
Are they any better than 300 years ago ...??!
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ex-l

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Re: The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declin

Post26 Jun 2012

I am really only looking at things from a BK point of view and in relationship to the BK point of view. 300 years ago, a third of us would died in child birth or infancy, and be dead before the age of 45. Most of us would be living like dogs, sleeping on floors, subject to wars, famines and disease and completely under the thumb of the local landlord. Slaves really.

We tend to romanticise the past. I don't think it was better or humanity was more "pure". I tend to think it was far more uneducated and ignorant (which the BKs seem to value). India was much more fuller of inequality ruled by vastly rich and all powerful local royalties (which the BKs seem to value). Philosophically, their original leaders seem to romanticise their experience of the past ... the material luxuries and privileges they had as the daughters or rich merchants and know little of the rest. (They were even pro-British and anti-Congress/India Independence).

What I would agree with is what you don't mention ... the increase in our violence towards the environment and natural world.

According to the BK philosophy, humanity keeps declining and all known history fits into the last 2,500 years. The past is always better then today. It is an incredibly simple view that life contradicts. You may have seen their teaching aid ... the poster of "The Ladder". That has been their guiding world view.

I wonder if it has changed, or they have a new explanation?

Sometimes it appears quite nihilistic and makes struggling to improve life or this world futile and pointless. The criticisms of the world were far worse in the early days when all Lekhraj Kirpalani had seen of the world was the Sind and British Calcutta. It is strange how for a rich man, and a Sindiworker, he never travelled to see the world at all.

Of course, if we look at the world many things have improved.
    killer diseases have been cured and eradicated
    women, children, foreigner races have been given rights and educated
    science, law, technology and democracy have arisen
    in developed parts, human beings work far less and live far longer ... and so on
We really have left 'Dark Ages'.

This trend would see to go against the unquestionable BKs' theory.

dany

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Re: The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declin

Post27 Jun 2012

Science and technology brought more comfort to our existence, but at the same time brought with them more worry, anxiety, tougher competition, more complex life with never ending demands and requirements, which all affected people’s lives and made it more miserable.

Brahma Kumaris have capitalized on this fact, and presented themselves as "saviours" of the world and humanity.

May be the most popular retreat BK offers is the one called "Peace of mind", which they hold very frequently and in different parts of the world.

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