Steven Pinker and Homi Bhabha discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of the Enlightenment

From IAI News:

Homi Bhabha: Every serious writer should be taken at his word, and I want to start with the pith of Steven Pinker’s argument: “More than ever, the ideals of reason, science, humanism, and progress need a wholehearted defense”. A worthy cause that prompts the question: Who has put the Enlightenment in the dock? And who should be called to the witness box?  Steven’s wholehearted defense valiantly rounds up the usual suspects —fundamentalism, obscurantism, prejudice, irrationality—but the historical amalgam of Enlightenment ideas, ideals and values doesn’t set his prose racing. He hits his stride when he puts his finger on the pulse of the present—enlightenment, now!  

“Now” is more than a time signature that gives Steven’s title a sense of urgency; it is an important measure of our progress. Too often, those who take the long view, what historians call the longue durée, blow away the repetitive and rebarbative perils that have shadowed the modern age—slavery, imperialism, world wars, genocide, the holocaust, tyranny, inequality, poverty—which appear as mere glitches in the ascending graph of modern civility: aberrations in the forward march of enlightenment progress.

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