I stopped reading this about a third of the way in. I really enjoyed his TED Talk but in this book, he’s like the speaker who makes his point and then keeps speaking and speaking. I felt like he wasn’t just content with making his point. He wanted to settle every little intellectual score with every other position and make sure that his readers understand he is not only right but that having any other position than his was utter foolishness.
Now despite not finishing the book and not enjoying his style — both obviously subjective points of view. I do want to share with you what is literally the last paragraph I read because I found it insightful and intriguing. Bordering, perhaps, even on being profound. And was the moment I knew I was better just better off putting this book down because I didn’t want him to keep going on and spoil this moment for me.
“The idea that the world is better than it was and can get better still fell out of fashion among the clerisy long ago. In The Idea of Decline in Western History, Arthur Herman shows that prophets of doom are the all-stars of the liberal arts curriculum, including Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Martin Heidegger, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Cornel West, and a chorus of eco-pessimists. Surveying the intellectual landscape at the end of the 20th century, Herman lamented a “grand recessional” of “the luminous exponents” of Enlightenment humanism, the ones who believed that “since people generate conflicts and problems in society, they can also resolve them.” Steven Pinker. “Enlightenment Now.”