From the Enlightenment onwards, the West has had an enduring belief that
through the evolution of institutions, innovations, and ideas, the human
condition is improving. This process is supposedly accelerating as new
technologies, individual freedoms, and the spread of global norms empower
individuals and societies around the world. But is progress inevitable? Its
critics argue that human civilization has become different, not better,
over the last two and a half centuries. What is seen as a breakthrough or
innovation in one period becomes a setback or limitation in another. In
short, progress is an ideology not a fact; a way of thinking about the
world as opposed to a description of reality. So is the cup half full or
half empty? As part of the Munk Debates series, held in Toronto biannually,
pioneering cognitive scientist Steven Pinker and bestselling author Matt
Ridley squared off against noted philosopher Alain de Botton and
bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, giving us an entertaining and thought-
provoking face-off between four of the world's most renowned thinkers.

Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley, Alain de Botton, Malcolm Gladwell—Do Humankind's Be

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  • 9781786070760