A Great Review

An absolutely brilliant review by Andrew Sullivan in the New York magazine. I’m definitely not going to read Pinker’s book. I leafed through it at the bookstore and realized that u would have loved it 10 years ago. Since then, however, I have grown and now find this kind of thing adolescent.

But the review is fantastic.

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10 thoughts on “A Great Review”

  1. Yeah, this part is unmitigated garbage:

    “Once you understand the intellectual roots of the social justice movement, you see how anti-Semitism must logically be intrinsic to it.”

    It’s just logic, people!

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  2. This is brittle crap. For me, this line of criticism is almost more commonplace than the thing it criticises – aside from Pinker, how many earnest whigs are out there, really?

    A whole host of unexamined assumptions. The idea that the greek ethical model is entirely continuous with “religion”. The concept of pre-modern religion as something that provides solace, meaning and cohesion on a societal level. The insistence that humans are “built” for something, and thus entirely ill-fit to modern life specifically, rather than the whole of recorded human history.

    It’s just mild worry in upscale garb. Maybe things are worse than they appear? Maybe things are about to get much worse? These two things aren’t even the same, conceptually, but the dude doesn’t distinguish because none of the questions he is discussing are potent, alive problems that he’s struggling to come to grips with. He’s pretty sure that the Pinker line is right, he just wants to be able to say “Let the record say I told you so” on the off-chance it’s not.

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    1. There idea that either there is meaning because of religion, or we are just interested in capital accumulation and commodity fetishism, seems rather threadbare.

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      1. People in this country live amidst what looks like fabulous riches to me. But they are not happy. It’s not just my impression. The statistics on the use of anti-depressants, etc don’t lie. I’ve seen refugees from war zones who are happier than folks here who have everything. There’s obviously something that is not ok. Forget religion, it’s dead anyway. But something is definitely amiss. And at least here is somebody who is trying to figure it out. His answers might be totally wack but at least he’s asking the question.

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        1. Well, not being raised in religion, nor with the idea that life had to have a “meaning,” I got the idea that meaningful activities and relationships, and happiness was not a goal but an effect of such activities and relationships. I don’t think this attitude is so uncommon even now. I do think the depression has a great deal to do with all this focus on the supposedly perfectible self, self as product, and with the breakdown not of the family but of civic society. I am sure my thoughts aren’t original or unusual but I think my post right here has more substance than what the book appears to have.

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