Saturday, July 7, 2012

Steven Pinker ; The Better Angels of our Nature;

The official meeting is scheduled for 1.5 hours.  So the official meeting (if we stick to ten minutes for each of 9 topic questions) will be from 6 pm to 7:30 pm.  Hopefully everyone will arrive by 5:30 so we can say our hellos and start in on the topics by 6 pm.

If you're coming to the meeting and you want to add to this list, please email me your topic question.   Also if you LIKE one of these topics particularly, please let me know.  Earl said he'd help me reduce them down to 9 topic questions by the time the meeting begins.

*1. What do you think of "bible believers" ability to compartmentalize? (loc 544, 666, 20527).  I am wanting to discuss all humans tenancy to compartmentalize.

*2. What do you think of the correlation of manners to self control to reduction in violence? (around loc 2116)

*3. Pinker (around loc 7690) appears to be equating anarchist with libertarian in most of the book NOT with the black-clad bomb-throwing movement of the turn of the 20th century.  I am wanting to discuss what you think it means to be an anarchist.

*4. My understanding is that Pinker posits that southerners are more accepting of violence to defend one's honor than northerners or Europeans. Did he convince you? (around loc 2309)  I am wanting to discuss how each of us reacts when someone does something rude to us.

*5. Do you think more police walking the streets would cut down on crime in Jacksonville? Do you think if the city fixed all the broken windows and kept the city clean, that would cut down on crime?

*6. Pinker bashes the rebellions in the sixties BUT then says the ideals (human rights)of the sixties may have brought crime down in the nineties. There is a lot in this topic question that could be discussed.   Pinker quotes some rock and roll music.  He gives examples of violent acts by rock and roll stars.  He also talks of disrespect for police.

*7. If you have a visceral reaction to the following quote, let's discuss. "...people began to think of a government as a gadget--a piece of technology invented by humans for the purpose of enhancing their collective welfare."

*8. Were you surprised by this statement? "Likewise, in the world as a whole, homicides outnumber war-related deaths.".

*9. Let's discuss this quote. "... in endorsing the Enlightenment ideal that the ultimate value in the political realm is the individual human being, the signatories were repudiating a doctrine that the ultimate value was the nation, culture, Volk, class, or other collectivity ..."

*10. Pinker posits that a nuclear arsenal does not prevent war? Did he convince you?

11. I would like to discuss these quotes. Loc 5430: "... in a world in which wealth grows out of exchange ... conquest cannot make a conqueror richer " loc 6848 "The leader becomes obsessed with fending off rivals for his cash cow and has no incentive to foster the networks of commerce that enrich a society and knit it together in reciprocal obligations"

*12. I would like to discuss this quote (loc 8558): "And like other terrorist campaigns, segregationist terrorism sealed its doom when it crossed the line into depravity and turned all public sympathy to its victims."  ...and a related quote: "A taboo on violence, King inferred, prevents a movement from being corrupted by thugs and firebrands who are drawn to adventure and mayhem. It preserves morale and focus among followers when the movement suffers early defeats. By removing any pretext for legitimate retaliation by the enemy, it stays on the positive side of the moral ledger in the eyes of third parties, while luring the enemy onto the negative side."

*13. Do we dare discuss this quote? "So let me begin by convincing you that most of us--including you, dear reader--are wired for violence, even if in all likelihood we will never have an occasion to use it."

*14. I would like to discuss this quote: And each side has assembled a historical narrative and database of facts consistent with its sincere belief.

*15. Someone showed me a review in the New Yorker from October 2011. I disagree with the review especially in regard to what is said about Hobbes' Leviathan. Let's discuss?

*16. Another thing mentioned in the New Yorker review was colonialism. Perhaps we could discuss this quote from loc1478: "The anthropologists Karen Ericksen and Heather Horton have quantified the way that the presence of government can move a society away from lethal vengeance. "

*17. It appears to me that Pinker is pointing out that the human brain is something that can be trained. AND that some training will reduce violence. I believe that he is pointing out that the increase in caring about animal suffering will help develop the empathy part of the brain. See loc 10404. Do you agree with my interpretation?

18. Loc 12242 "Psychopathy is a lifelong disabling of the inhibitions against sadism. Psychopaths have a blunted response in their ... marked lack of sympathy with other people ..."

*19. This section makes me admire people like Spinoza and Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black all the more. The short version: the emperor has no clothes. One of the quotes from this section: "During witch hunts and purges, people get caught up in cycles of preemptive denunciation"

*20. I'd like to discuss cognitive dissonance reduction. See loc 12515

*21. I would like to discuss this question that Pinker poses around location 13045: "Could fiction be a stealthy way to expand people's sympathy?"

*22. Loc 14149: "... a freedom of individuals from tribal and authoritarian force, and a tolerance of personal choices as long as they do not infringe on the autonomy and well-being of others"

*23. Loc 15119: "In light of the history and psychology that we have reviewed, I believe we can identify five developments that have pushed the world in a peaceful direction." end quote. Did he convince you? Did you think he adequately supported his case for each one?
A .The Leviathan (or Justitia) or referee
B. Gentle Commerce
C. Feminization
D. The expanding circle
E. the escalator of reason

Chapters with Kindle locations and pages in the book:

Chapter 1 A Foreign Country --page 1 --- location 297
Chapter 2 The Pacification Process--page 31 --location 945
              3 The Civilizing Process p 59 loc  1532
              4 The Humanitarian Revolution p 129 loc 2977
              5 The Long Peace p 189 loc 4277
              6 The New Peace p 295 loc 6515
              7 The Rights Revolutions p 378 loc 8378
              8 Inner Demons p 482 loc 10587
              9 Better Angels p 571 loc loc 12626
              10 On Angels' Wings p 671 loc 14922
last page of book before notes  p 696         loc 15459
last page of index p 802 loc 21697

No comments:

Post a Comment