Steven Pinker's The Better Angels Of Our Nature

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In Chapter 4, of The Better Angels of our Nature, Steven Pinker illustrates how ideas such as good sense and science have helped aid in the historical revolution that has led us to react to extreme violence and torture with horror. According to Pinker, the Humanitarian Revolution was “propelled by ideas, by explicit arguments that institutionalized violence ought to be minimized or abolished, and some of it was propelled by a change in sensibilities” (133). He claims that this period is where “people began to sympathize with more of their fellow humans”(133) and shifted from “valuing souls to valuing lives”(143). Pinker states that the Civilizing Process that precisely proceeded the Humanitarian Revolution was a time where a physical repulsion came about and credits “moral repulsion,” characterized…show more content…
In one example, the Duke of Brunswick establishes to two students that he is capable of evoking a confession from a woman on the rack that incriminated both of the scholars of sorcery. He asks the two of them, “shall I put you to the torture until you confess, my friends?” (139). Pinker is repetitive about arguments that highlight how, during the "humanitarian revolution," the mockery of torture is used as a tool to make the act of torture illegal. The driving force for calling attention to hypocrisy is knowledge which is introduced by the age of reason, but this knowledge is accessible to a limited number of people. In his previous analysis, Pinker hints that social structures and the lust for power influence how violence is used. However, while Pinker gives excellent examples of how people 's actions ' systemically made torture and abuse an immoral act and even illegal, he does not go into detail about how that social power structure comes into play during this period of
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