Part of human nature allows us to control the other part of our human nature. Even though humans tend to be unreasonable, it can’t be the case that we’re incapable of reason — otherwise, you’d never be able to make the argument that we’re being unreasonable. Even if we tend to backslide to irrationality, that doesn’t mean we should indulge that when we are deliberating how to run a society.
I would say that it’s appreciating the progress that gives us the courage and conviction to try to strive for more progress. History tells us that attempts to make the world better tend to succeed. We’ll never achieve a utopia, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make things a little bit better.
(Stephen Pinker, quoted by Karen Weintraub, “Stephen Pinker Thinks the Future Is Looking Bright,” NYTimes, 11-19-18)
(c) 2018 JMN.