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Todd Suomela

Is Ours the Best World Ever? | Commonweal Magazine - 0 views

  • Pinker also refuses to engage seriously with the major philosophical critics of the Enlightenment such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno, and Foucault. He offers a ludicrous summary of their thought, claiming that they “are morose cultural pessimists who declare that modernity is odious, all statements are paradoxical, works of art are tools of oppression, liberal democracy is the same as fascism, and Western civilization is circling the drain.” The first and last statements are just crude ways of saying that they raise serious questions about the Enlightenment, which, given their influence over many years, should make them essential targets for Pinker. In fact, except for perhaps Heidegger, all of them are best seen as Enlightenment thinkers, extending its critical project to some of the Enlightenment’s own intellectual weaknesses. Moreover, none of them would assert that all statements are paradoxical or that works of art are tools of oppression; and only Heidegger might be inclined to equate fascism with liberal democracy. But even if these crude slogans were acceptable summaries of these thinkers’ conclusions, rejecting those conclusions would require careful consideration of their detailed analyses and arguments.
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    Review, written by Gary Gutting, of Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker.
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