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The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

Steven Pinker (author) and Jim Stoddart (covers)
Original language:
Penguin Books
History and psychology
Publication year:
Original publication year:
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Table of Contents:
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  • List of Figures
  • Preface

1. A Foreign Country

  • Human Prehistory
  • Homeric Greece
  • The Hebrew Bible
  • The Roman Empire and Early Christendom
  • Medieval Knights
  • Early Modern Europe
  • Honor in Europe and the Early United States
  • The 20th Century

2. The Pacification Process

  • The Logic of Violence
  • Violence in Human Ancestors
  • Kinds of Human Societies
  • Rates of Violence in State and Nonstate Societies
  • Civilization and Its Discontents

3. The Civilizing Process

  • The European Homicide Decline
  • Explaining the European Homicide Decline
  • Violence and Class
  • Violence Around the World
  • Violence in These United States
  • Decivilization in the 1960s
  • Recivilization in the 1990s

4. The Humanitarian Revolution

  • Superstitious Killing: Human Sacrifice, Witchcraft, and Blood Libel
  • Superstitious Killing: Violence Against Blasphemers, Heretics, and Apostates
  • Cruel and Unusual Punishments
  • Capital Punishment
  • Slavery
  • Despotism and Political Violence
  • Major War
  • Whence the Humanitarian Revolution?
  • The Rise of Empathy and the Regard for Human Life
  • The Republic of Letters and Enlightenment Humanism
  • Civilization and Enlightenment
  • Blood and Soil

5. The Long Peace

  • Statistics and Narratives
  • Was the 20th Century Really the Worst?
  • The Statistics of Deadly Quarrels, Part 1: The Timing of Wars
  • The Statistics of Deadly Quarrels, Part 2: The Magnitude of Wars
  • The Trajectory of Great Power War
  • The Trajectory of European War
  • The Hobbesian Background and the ages of Dynasties and Religions
  • Three Currents in the Age of Sovereignty
  • Counter-Enlightenment Ideologies and the Age of Nationalism
  • Humanism and Totalitarianism in the Age of Ideology
  • The Long Peace: Some Numbers
  • The Long Peace: Attitudes and Events
  • Is the Long Peace a Nuclear Peace?
  • Is the Long Peace a Democratic Peace?
  • Is the Long Peace a Liberal Peace?
  • Is the Long Peace a Kantian Peace?

6. The New Peace

  • The Trajectory of War in the Rest of the World
  • The Trajectory of Genocide
  • The Trajectory of Terrorism
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread

7. The Right Revolutions

  • Civil Rights and the Decline of Lynching and Racial Pogroms
  • Women's Rights and the Decline of Rape and Battering
  • Children's Rights and the Decline of Infanticide, Spanking, Child Abuse, and Bullying
  • Gay Rights, the Decline of Gay-Bashing, and the Decriminalization of Homosexuality
  • Animal Rights and the Decline of Cruelty to Animals
  • Whence the Rights Revolutions?
  • From History to Psychology

8. Inner Demons

  • The Dark Side
  • The Moralization Gap and the Myth of Pure Evil
  • Organs of Violence
  • Predation
  • Dominance
  • Revenge
  • Sadism
  • Ideology
  • Pure Evil, Inner Demons, and the Decline of Violence

9. Better Angels

  • Empathy
  • Self-Control
  • Recent Biological Evolution?
  • Morality and Taboo
  • Reason

10. On Angels' Wings

  • Important but Inconsistent
  • The Pacifist's Dilemma
  • The Leviathan
  • Gentle Commerce
  • Feminization
  • The Expanding Circle
  • The Escalator of Reason
  • Reflections
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

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